Miss Harper Can Do It

Overview

Twenty-four-year-old elementary schoolteacher Annie Harper is left behind in Tacoma, Washington, when her boyfriend, David, is shipped overseas.
Wrestling with the complex emotions tied to his absence, she begins writing a confessional memoir, imagining it as a moving account of “the woman at home.” But instead of writing a touching account of life on the home front, a tale of integrity and patience peppered with earnest love letters and fat, ...

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Overview

Twenty-four-year-old elementary schoolteacher Annie Harper is left behind in Tacoma, Washington, when her boyfriend, David, is shipped overseas.
Wrestling with the complex emotions tied to his absence, she begins writing a confessional memoir, imagining it as a moving account of “the woman at home.” But instead of writing a touching account of life on the home front, a tale of integrity and patience peppered with earnest love letters and fat, juicy tears, Annie lives life without David in ways she didn’t anticipate.

She spends more time with her best friend, Gus, begins volunteering at a local retirement center, and adopts a pet chicken. Even as she misses David enormously between his sparse e-mails and choppy phone calls, she struggles with conflicted feelings about their long-distance relationship, her own identity and family history, and the ideological underpinnings of a war that’s exerting such a force on her life.

Told through raw, rough draft chapters of Annie’s memoir-in-progress, Miss Harper Can Do It is a funny and poignant story of what it means to be loyal versus what it means to be in love. In Annie, Berentson has rendered a quirky young woman who copes with loss and stress in unexpected ways, only wavering briefly on the brink of self-pity and never losing her sense of humor.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Third-grade teacher Annie Harper pines for boyfriend David Paterson, who's been deployed to Iraq, while she tends the home fires in Tacoma, Wash., in Berentson's cutesy debut. Annie's got plenty to keep her busy: a precious memoir-in-progress, a best friend whose relationship takes a surprising turn, a few pals in a nursing home, a long-lost brother and a growing uncertainty about where her 24-year-old heart might be settling. Sweet and manic Annie chronicles her ever-changing points of view of life, love and loyalty, and while the occasional interesting aside sneaks in, Berentson breaks no new ground on the battleground of modern love: a smart and sassy gal who needs more than safe and sane to make her heart sing discovers the love of her life right in front of her nose. Annie's yearlong slog through loneliness and self-doubt all comes down to a rather underwhelming conclusion. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
A lackluster debut chronicling a year in the life of a Tacoma schoolteacher whose boyfriend is stationed in Iraq. The book is presented as the rough draft of a memoir-each chapter begins with a new working title. Annie Harper, 24, sees her writing project as a means of reflecting on the emotional difficulties experienced by women left alone during wartime. The initial seriousness soon falls away as Annie continues with life as usual-teaching third grade, hanging out with Gus, her best friend since childhood, recently returned from the Peace Corps. David, meanwhile, phones and e-mails from Iraq when he can. The tone of the novel, which attempts comedy but is more often satisfied with a kind of youthful flippancy, does nothing to convince the reader that Annie's feelings for David were ever deep enough to warrant a memoir. Along the way, Annie volunteers at a retirement home and is assigned Loretta Schumacher as a conversation partner. Loretta, 93, is feisty and wise (aren't they always) and helps Annie by offering her own reminiscences of being alone while her husband was overseas during World War II. On Loretta's advice, Annie buys a chicken, and she revels in her new role as pet owner/mini farmer. With David away, Annie spends more time with Gus. Gus is brilliant (a Yale degree in philosophy), artistic (he has temporary work as a decorative painter) and just quirky enough to be interesting without being weird. And as Gus is straight, it's fairly obvious where the plot is headed. Though a bit predictable, the novel's real weakness is its sophomoric fascination with the mundane, the footnotes and appendixes that attempt a wry coolness but are instead hopelessly bland. Conveys all of thetedium of ordinary life, but without any of the insight.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670020775
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/30/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Berentson grew up in rural Washington State. She has a BA in Spanish and English from Pacific Lutheran University, an MA in publishing and writing from Emerson College, and is currently working on an MS in adolescent Spanish education at Pace University. She teaches junior high school Spanish in Brooklyn, New York.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    Dont, PLEEEEASE

    Dont, plz just dont, dont even stop to think, just dont

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2010

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