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4.2 5
by Elizabeth Burns

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Which could also be the same as saying everything's impossible in this family. It's the tightrope I walk between the Irish knowledge that cookies always crumble, and the Midwestern fact that a sunny disposition can get you anywhere...

Bridget Fox's life is full of blessings, including her husband Pierce, a talented sculptor, and her two delightful daughters.


Which could also be the same as saying everything's impossible in this family. It's the tightrope I walk between the Irish knowledge that cookies always crumble, and the Midwestern fact that a sunny disposition can get you anywhere...

Bridget Fox's life is full of blessings, including her husband Pierce, a talented sculptor, and her two delightful daughters. But her elder daughter, Maeve, doesn't seem to be developing the way she's supposed to. She doesn't respond when she's called. She doesn't like to be touched, and the slightest disturbance sends her into a frenzy. Suddenly Bridget, who has plenty of experience with travel and art and sophisticated pleasures, is facing challenges she's never imagined. And as she copes with loss, change, and uncertainty-sometimes with nothing to hold on to but Maeve, and her sense of humor- she begins to find a strength she's never imagined...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The things that happen to Bridget Fox in this debut novel could make Job weep, but Bridget is funny on every page, and equally poignant. The overwhelming fact of Bridget's life is that her five-year-old daughter, Maeve, is autistic. Bridget describes what it's like to love a child when "she can't let you know she loves you back." Maeve wears a weighted vest to calm her and alternately giggles and moans to herself. She throws herself against a window and cracks it. This child would be too much for anyone, but Bridget has also suffered grievous losses: she divorced her philandering first husband and weathered the death of her beloved cousin. She and her current husband, Pierce, recently left their longtime home in Manhattan for Minneapolis, where Pierce, an internationally known sculptor, has a teaching job. Bridget has virtually no support system. Her father dies of cancer, her mother is chilly (she tells the desperate Bridget that she needs to find a good rinse for her graying hair). Pierce is soon diagnosed as manic-depressive. It's no wonder that Bridget tilts toward mental breakdown, but it is a wonder that she can be so engaging while coming unhinged-and that Burns manages to stave off melodrama with her dry wit and down-to-earth narration. Burns is a poet whose prose is lyrical, energetic and original. "We have crossed over into some world that I used to imagine was inhabited only by saints and martyrs, by mothers who grow patience like lizards grow tails." This hip and witty novel doesn't mince words about sex, mental illness or the exhaustion of child-rearing. (Mar.) Forecast: Burns's honest, peppery voice will appeal to fans of Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It.
Kirkus Reviews
Blow-by-blow account of a woman's struggle to keep her sanity despite an autistic daughter and bipolar husband: a debut that tries to be both an issue-novel and an exploration of selfhood. Narrator Bridget Fox is not a happy camper. A New Yorker by upbringing and inclination, she has recently moved to Minneapolis because her sculptor husband, Pierce, has a tenured teaching position there. Stuck in what she considers the boondocks caring for her two daughters, two-year-old Cleo and almost five-year-old Maeve, Bridget must watch from afar as her cousin/best friend Nessa dies of breast cancer and her brilliant and beloved if alcoholic father-as opposed to her distant, utterly sane mother-succumbs to kidney cancer. Meanwhile, Maeve's development isn't on track. She doesn't talk or play normally and soon is diagnosed as autistic. Still grieving over the deaths, Bridget schleps Maeve to special classes, follows medication procedures, cleans up after her. Everyone tells Bridget how well she's holding up, but she describes in detail just how scared and ambivalent she actually feels. The reader is never allowed to forget that this woman has had horribly bad luck. To top it off, Pierce turns out to be manic-depressive, requiring hospital stays and more medication-scheduling. Bridget joins a support group and almost takes up again with her first husband. Her mother drops in and offers unexpected solace. Maeve becomes only harder to handle while Cleo blossoms. Pierce ends up in the emergency ward. Bridget copes-until suddenly she can't anymore and downs sleeping pills. Now she's the one in the hospital coming to grips with her suppressed anger (as if she hasn't been expressing it loudly all along)and with the need to place Maeve in a facility. Rising to the occasion, Pierce takes over at home. Bridget recovers. Maeve is placed. A shaky stability arrives. Excessive navel-gazing and self-pity get in the way of the sharp observations and sense of humor that newcomer Burns displays. Agent: Ursula Bender/Agence Hoffman

Product Details

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Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.31(h) x 0.98(d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Burns is an award-winning poet. She has won the Academy of American Poets Award, the Foley Award, the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing and the Lenore Marshall Award for Prose and for Poetry as well. Elizabeth teaches writing, women's studies and writing seminars in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Tilt 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so captured by this book. I had a hard time putting it down. My son has Autism and I could relate to the mother in the story. The emotions were so touching and realistic. It pulled at my heart and made me remember feelings that I have had throughout my journey of understanding. Wonderful read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing story of how one woman dealt with keeping her sanity in an extraordinary situation. Burns' writing made me feel exactly what Bridget, the main character, was feeling. It was a very emotional read but left me satisfied in the end, feeling certain that all of the characters would be alright. I read it in less than two days and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cathartic read. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Burns has a beautiful style of writing that loops the reader gracefully through the story. Her style is clean, lyrical, and neatly paints a picture and emotion that is intrinsically, and instantly multlayered and/or multidimensional. I'm not one with a psychology background, nor am I a mother yet - but the story sheds a warm light to the human heart; the desires and conflicts that we all deny about ourselves, but must accept... It's a very rich book. It's a book that leaves you wondering about the characters in the story - after it's over... You miss the narrator as a friend, and wonder if she is well...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an extremely moving portrayal of a woman's struggle with her own sanity while attempting to keep her family intact. The author has captured the essence of what it is like for people who struggle with their own mental health while attempting to heal those around them. Although it would seem that this subject would create a very depressing story, we are instead deeply moved by the courage shown by this woman and her family, and we are given a sense of hope for their future together. This book should be read by every professional healer who wants to understand the emotional struggle of a family with a special needs child. I plan to read this well written narrative again and again. Bravo, Ms. Burns, for telling this powerful story of a family's courage. I look forward to reading your future work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how mental & emotional disablitited affect loved ones. The author's writing keeps you moving through the pages. Instead of being depressed by the character's life, I found myself impressed by her strength and patience. I plan to read it again soon.