- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Kerry Madden-Lunsford's fresh, often hilarious, debut novel presents a bittersweet and unforgettable tale of adolescence. On the surface, the Donegals seem the picture-perfect norm of a nuclear family in the 1970s. But seen through the eyes of Liz Donegal, her world teeters on the brink of disintegration. Liz's father, an assistant college football coach, uproots his family annually with the motivational compassion of "Get your ass in the ...
Kerry Madden-Lunsford's fresh, often hilarious, debut novel presents a bittersweet and unforgettable tale of adolescence. On the surface, the Donegals seem the picture-perfect norm of a nuclear family in the 1970s. But seen through the eyes of Liz Donegal, her world teeters on the brink of disintegration. Liz's father, an assistant college football coach, uproots his family annually with the motivational compassion of "Get your ass in the car." Her brothers Joe-Sam and Leo, whose first words are "hut, hut, hike," and sister, Peaches, a wannabe cheerleader, pick apart their lives and tentatively pull together in whatever town they land in, whether it's Bobcat Country or Shark Territory. While chaos reigns within the Donegal household, outside the family dog Halfback is busy digging up his predecessor Bear Bryant. At the center of this remarkable cast of characters, Liz creates a world for herself spun out of best friends, books, secret glimpses at sex manuals, and a few adults who actually understand what it means to grow up "offsides." Fostered by the creativity of her aunt Betty and uncle Peter, Liz first glimpses life beyond football games and Catholic school. When she isn't busy rebelling, singing Lou Reed songs, or transforming herself into Helen Keller or Anne Frank, Liz is falling in love, discovering herself, and learning that life also has some painful lessons.
Elizabeth Donegal carries all of the usual burdens that afflict the young and the insecure, plus one: She knows more about football than most of the boys and all of the girls in her class. That's because Liz's Daddy is an assistant coach and her life revolves around the football season of whatever college town they happen to be living in at the moment. "Peace was not a high priority in a football family," according to Liz, who found out the hard way. Nearly every year, after all, the Donegals moved to a new town in the hope that Daddy could work his way up to Head Coach, and, as a result, a life lived out of suitcases and in motels and boys' dorms has left the Donegal children with only the vaguest conception (and no firsthand experience) of what most of their peers consider normal homes and family life. Religion provides some continuity for Liz (despite her early premonitions that she might be a feminist or lesbian), and she spends more and more of her spare time in Catholic circles. There, she meets her two first loves: Peter, an artistic loner who commits suicide during his freshman year at Notre Dame, and Robert, who can't seem to decide whether or not he wants to enter a seminary. Although the usual adolescent traumas that Liz suffers are far from lighthearted, there is surprisingly little anger in her telling of them, and her story as a whole is refreshingly free of the self- pity that trips up so many young novelists their first time out. The climax of the tale is as understated as its narration, and manages to be both credible and pungent.
Pleasant, winning, and unpretentious.
Posted October 18, 2000
kerry madden-lunsford served as my teacher for two weeks this past summer in the mountains of sewanee, tennessee. she also took on the roles of therapist and constant listening ear. her encouragement made me believe in my writing, and most importantly in myself. and i am forever in her debt due to the help she gave me. my quest for self-discovery and happiness would have been much more complicated and painful without kerry's assistance. THANK YOU, KERRY! oh. and others, READ THIS BOOK!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.