When You Go Away

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Overview

From the acclaimed author of The Matter of Grace and Her Daughter's Eyes-a novel about a mother of three who, abandoned by her husband, tries to run from her problems. But when she returns, it's only the beginning of her family's journey. Includes a Conversation Guide.
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Overview

From the acclaimed author of The Matter of Grace and Her Daughter's Eyes-a novel about a mother of three who, abandoned by her husband, tries to run from her problems. But when she returns, it's only the beginning of her family's journey. Includes a Conversation Guide.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A fault line opens-and a troubled family is torn apart. Peri MacKenzie must care for her severely handicapped child without much help after her selfish husband decamps, but she does so with heart and humor . . .until the day she disappears. Then her precociously maternal daughter Carly takes over, carefully feeding five-year-old Brooke through a tube, cleaning and diapering her paralyzed body, and cheering her up with TV cartoons. Faithfully following Peri's routine, right down to greeting her sister every morning with the wry "Hello, Exceptional Individual," Carly wonders when her mother will come back-never doubting her return. But she doesn't. Not wanting to cause trouble for her beleaguered family, resigned to receiving no help from her mostly oblivious 15-year-old brother, Carly gets by, hoping Brooke won't spike a fever, as she frequently does. When the thermometer reveals a temperature that Tylenol won't bring down, she calls on neighbor Rosie Candelero, a nurse, for help, and at last the social workers arrive. The little girl is found to have bedsores and other ailments, though it's clear that Carly did her best. Eventually, Peri's ex-husband Graham shows up-not that he's immediately willing to admit any responsibility for driving his unwanted former family into near poverty. Someone else is going to have to be a hero. He couldn't do it when Brooke was born and he can't do it now. Then Peri's father Carl returns, more or less out of the blue. A well-off, retired real-estate agent, Carl abandoned Peri and her mother Janice long ago, and now regrets it. He sees the situation as his chance to make amends and redeem himself, though Janice has been dead for several years and Peri isnow in a mental institution (that's where she's gone) after a suicide attempt. Yet slowly-ever so slowly-the family begins to heal. Muted, poignant drama with an immensely appealing depth, plain grace-and echoes of Inclán's Her Daughter's Eyes (2000). Agent: Mel Berger/William Morris
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451207876
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.56 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2005

    When You Go Away

    Devastated by the collapse of her marriage and the ordeals incurred by having a handicapped daughter, Peri takes off, abandoning not only that child, but her two teen aged children. When the youngest becomes ill, the older children are forced to turn to their maternal grandfather for help. Eventually, Peri is found. Forced to get herself together before she can be trusted to be a mother again, Peri and her entire family must confront generations of demons to reknit their brokenness. ..................... Tragic as the entire situation is, there is an emotional distance and lack of sympathetic characterization that results in a wholy depressing, despondant read. If you just need to read something to prove that there are people worse off than you in your bleaker moments, this might be reassuring.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    insightful look at what bonds a family unit

    Stunned because she thought they had a solid family relationship, Peri Mackenzie walks in a sad fog following the total desertion by her spouse. The housewife and mother of three finds more than just the emotional rug ripped from underneath her, as her husband left the foursome with no financial floor either. Months later with the depression even deeper, Peri drives away from her three children. Teenager Carly takes over running the household though she pretty much had done so unofficially for the past few months. However, when her handicapped sister Brooke becomes feverish, Carly turns to their neighbor for help. That neighbor locates their estranged grandfather Carl, who takes in his three grandchildren who he sees as a chance for redemption. When Peri regains her equilibrium and realizes what she did, she races home, but now must re-earn the respect of her children. Although well written and providing insight into what bonds a family unit, WHEN YOU GO AWAY avoids being a tearjerker but the reader feels no empathy towards Peri. The story line intrigues fans of character studies as it clinically dissects what can happen to individuals and a family when a major shattering event occurs but the key quintet, though fully developed, never grips the audience. Jessica Barksdale Inclan provides a perceptive tale, but the audience will wonder why the tissue box remained closed? Harriet Klausner

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