In Zanesville: A Novel

In Zanesville: A Novel

by Jo Ann Beard

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Overview

The fourteen-year-old narrator of IN ZANESVILLE is a late bloomer. She flies under the radar-a sidekick, a marching band dropout, a disastrous babysitter, the kind of girl whose Eureka moment is the discovery that "fudge" can't be said with an English accent. Luckily, she has a best friend with whom she shares the everyday adventures of a 1970s American girlhood, incidents through which a world is revealed, and character is forged.

In time, their friendship is tested—by their families' claims on them, by a clique of popular girls who stumble upon them, and by the first, startling, subversive intimations of womanhood.

With dry wit and piercing observation, Jo Ann Beard shows us that in the seemingly quiet streets of America's innumerable Zanesvilles is a world of wonders, and that within the souls of the overlooked often burns something radiant.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316125277
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 971,959
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jo Ann Beard is the author of a collection of autobiographical essays, The Boys of My Youth. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Best American Essays, and other magazines and anthologies. She received a Whiting Foundation Award and nonfiction fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

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In Zanesville 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Zanesville is utterly charming and delightful, as was Ms. Beard's first book, Boys of My Youth. I keep calling it Boys of Our Youth, because that's what it felt like. In both books, I had the uncanny feeling the author must have grown up in my town, gone to my school, and been in my family. The writing is lovely and pitch perfect, and there are several scenes I'll never forget. I'm not even a fan of coming-of-age novels, but I absolutely loved these books and have recommended them to numerous friends, all who felt the same way. In Zanesville is a rare treat. Anne McGrath
autumnbluesreviews More than 1 year ago
If you were a teen in the 1970's you can definitely relate to INZANESVILLE. The main character a 14 year old teenager girl is also the narrator and remains annonymous throughout the book. Despite her dysfunctional family which includes her chain smoking mother and her non-working alcoholic father, the narator seeems to emotionally lead a rather normal teenage life. Follow her and laugh as I did as she leads you through her life at home, through school, as she hangs out with her best friend Felicia and a few others, all with silly nicknames. Reminise in her feelings as she begins to notice boys and experience those first tingling sensations all over again. I love the character of the narrator simply for the reason that she is just like the average teenager, not overly attractive yet not plain, but just in between. She struggles with the friendship of her best friend Flea while also trying to fit into a group of teens that have found her interesting either because her differences seem to intrigue them or they are bored of themselves. I found a lot of familiarity including the fiasco when the narrator purposely acquires detention in order to introduce herself to a said boy, who she later awkwardly dumps when he gets a little frisky. Beard really makes these characters come to life on her pages and you can relate to these teenage antics whatever your age. The close teenage friendship, the feelings of abandonment by her friend, her relationship with her siblings and even her parents can be anyones real life. I feel Beards intention with this story is to pull the reader back to that particular time in their life, those teenage years, to make that connection. The true realization I recognized INZANESVILLE to hold is that real true friendships are more important than school cliques or boys.
SherylHendrix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A coming of age novel that is hard to place in terms of timeline as portions of it remind me much of my own pre-teen and early teen years in the mid-sixties, while certain allusions simply seemed out of sync with those times. Not certain that I really liked it, but it was engaging enough that I did keep reading to finish the book - I don't recall being quite so invested in every nuance of every action that took place in an around me, but it was a long time ago so perhaps I was more self-involved than I think I was.
AngelaCinVA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was a fine story. But I never felt like I really connected with the narrator. I¿m slightly bothered that I can¿t even remember her name, and I don¿t know if it¿s because I have forgotten or because we never learn it in the book.
BookishDame on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Inzanesville" is a steady walk through the mire and joys of insanity called adolescence while trying to navigate the delicate, treacherous landmines of a dysfunctional family. Insanesville is shortly recognized as a euphemism of Inzanesville and we are abruptly drawn into the place and time of what we understand is going to be a gripping story.Jo Ann Beard is an earthy writer. She is a writer who doesn't mince words and who doesn't use flowery language. She's an author of grass roots. When she writes, she not only tells us, she shows us with clear words and descriptions we can remember and see from our own lives. This is a skill so rare in fiction today, it's a pleasure to experience.She had me laughing through my tears. This timeless use of humor to cover pain is always piercing and effective. Her prose is tight, as I mentioned, and she doesn't mince words to get across the message she has for us. There's no time wasted in gift wrap, but Ms Beard gives us her story in straight talk that magnifies its impact and humor. It's an unfliching tale, one of angst and emotional suffering...life and circumstances inflicting pain and epiphanies that are the essence of growing up.I asked myself how such a book could be both enjoyable to read and hold such childhood nightmares at the same time. I could only come up with this: A writer of remarkable courage and gifts could only have written this through personal experience.Ms Beard's protagonist, aptly named Jo" after one of the "Little Women," but not the one who was her favorite--Amy, is wise beyond her years. As the narrator of her own story, Jo brings us along with her in a journey that leads her into an awakening and a growing up that she needs to do....her mother having told her she needs to get beyond being a "late bloomer." What seems sad is that she finally attains this wisdom, and then seems to give up what's won in what I felt a sort of acceptance of the inevitable. I'm walking a tighrope here, being somewhat vague because this is a book that must be read to be grasped in its impact, which is crushing and lasting. Along the difficult road she treads, Jo finds lasting friendship and its meaning, her personal "calling," and a way to work out her emotional struggles and world-view through art. She begins to understand her parents and the family dynamics, and that she has choices within it. And, sadly, the scales of childish things fall from her eyes."Inzanesville" is a book that will touch your heart, make you laugh heartily; one that will stop you dead in your tracks and open your eyes. It will recall to you your own junior high years, absolutely. And, if you happen to be one of those unfortunate children who have had to tread (perhaps still tread) the inelegant, ugly and treacherous waters of a dysfunctional family, it will give you something to think about. I was particularly impacted by Jo's constant worries nearly every day that her father was planning and attempting suicide.This book will undoubtedly rank in my Top Ten Favorite Books of 2011. Despite its blend of the tragic with the hilarious, ultimately, it is downright fabulous reading! Jo Ann Beard is a truth-teller, and a court jester of a word spinner tossing up jolts of humor catching us off guard, then, as the illusion of laughter begins to crumble, leaving us with a sinking feeling of contemplation and a sense of her protagonist and the family's anxieties. She is enchanting and brilliant with an uncanning frankness that's irresistible to readers.I must add that Little, Brown and Co., does a tremendous job of chosing and publishing outstanding authors and books. I am a fan of independent authors and their books, as well. However, the caliber of author Hachette Publishing has been chosing is, bar none, excellent. It's almost a given that books published by this historic and traditional publishing house are of the finest quality.Do yourself a favor this year and read "Inzanesville" by Jo
detailmuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We can¿t believe the house is on fire. It¿s so embarrassing first of all, and so dangerous second of all. Also, we¿re supposed to be in charge here, so there¿s a sense of somebody not doing their job.Some books are written for children and adolescent readers, some are written about childhood and adolescence for adult readers. The first sentences (above) from the unnamed narrator who¿s babysitting six kids with her best friend -- her self-deprecation and obviously mis-ordered priorities; her use of ¿tableau¿ and ¿sibilance¿ a few pages later -- predict a story about adolescence, circa 1970 but influenced by a wiser, reminiscing adult.And I think that¿s what Beard intended in this coming-of-age story about a girl¿s summer before 9th grade. It's full of friendship and small-town (¿insanesville¿) period detail, and woven with a riveting family subplot full of tension and high stakes. And in Beard¿s writing, there is so much good here. But at about the halfway point, the family subplot fades and the story becomes superficial YA, where everyday adolescent problems wreak melodramatic fallout and culminate in a quick, unearned ending.(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)
jlbattis2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very conflicted about this one. It presents itself as an "adult" book but isn't: I kept waiting for that moment when the narrator would step out of her teen self and view her adolescent travails from the perspective of her mature self. That moment never came. As a YA novel this works well and I commend the author for (not-too-subtly) working Shakespeare, surrealism and classic YA lit into the narrative, but otherwise......?
milibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was published as adult fiction and is a coming of age story, but is in some ways more YA fiction. It is set in the 1970's, and the period detail will appeal to adults. However, some of the teenage angst can become tiresome. Most of it was enjoyable reading, but it seemed to lose focus near the end. Nothing is resolved in the unnamed narrator's dysfunctional family and we're not sure if the narrator's actions at the end of the story mirror her father's answer to stress or are just related to the experimentation of adolescence. Recommended for those who remember growing up in the '70's.
BiZMamma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I have no recollection of where I heard about this book or why I decided to read it -- but I am glad I did. It is a story of teenage angst, of a girl and her childhood best friend trying to navigate the surreal landscape of adolescence. From babysitting together for a strange family (and being fired after their pyro-maniac son sets fire to the house), to spending the night together (sort of still under parental supervision, but with a perceived sense of freedom in the family camper), to dealing with the faults of her parents, to popularity and boys and clothes and siblings and appearances -- Beard brings it all back to life. Beard must have been taking notes during this period of her own life, because I don't think I could recreate all of these emotions and layers of complexity that a teenager feels her life is all about. I must say that in many parts, I more identified with the "best friend" (Flea), but I did get some great insight into "Jo", who I never understood before. The feeling of something being different after a somewhat non-event (in Flea's eyes, anyway), and no one is quite able to put their finger on what that thing was, and how that thing was irreversible with apologies or promises or even actions -- I soooo remember that. I just could never have captured the experience the way Beard does. As another reviewer noted, In Zanesville will return you to the teenage feelings of general discomfort, horror and humor. Fantastic. A favorite sentence that resonated for me? "I'd like to be the kind of person who can do something weird and not become weird because of it, but that's out of reach for me -- I am what I do at this point, and if I do this I'm done for." Another reviewer complained that a fourteen year old would never be this articulate, but I don't feel like she REALLY had this great insight consciously; it was almost a subconscious, or even "adult" Jo telling the story. Read it!
autumnblues on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A witty tale of an average American teenager in a dysfunctional family. If you were a teen in the 1970's you can definitely relate to INZANESVILLE. The main character a 14 year old teenager girl is also the narrator and remains annonymous throughout the book. Despite her dysfunctional family which includes her chain smoking mother and her non-working alcoholic father, the narator seeems to emotionally lead a rather normal teenage life. Follow her and laugh as I did as she leads you through her life at home, through school, as she hangs out with her best friend Felicia and a few others, all with silly nicknames. Reminise in her feelings as she begins to notice boys and experience those first tingling sensations all over again. I love the character of the narrator simply for the reason that she is just like the average teenager, not overly attractive yet not plain, but just in between. She struggles with the friendship of her best friend Flea while also trying to fit into a group of teens that have found her interesting either because her differences seem to intrigue them or they are bored of themselves. I found a lot of familiarity including the fiasco when the narrator purposely acquires detention in order to introduce herself to a said boy, who she later awkwardly dumps when he gets a little frisky. Beard really makes these characters come to life on her pages and you can relate to these teenage antics whatever your age. The close teenage friendship, the feelings of abandonment by her friend, her relationship with her siblings and even her parents can be anyones real life. I feel Beards intention with this story is to pull the reader back to that particular time in their life, those teenage years, to make that connection. The true realization I recognized INZANESVILLE to hold is that real true friendships are more important than school cliques or boys.
knitwit2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alternately funny and horrifying - much like real life. Told through the voice of a 14 year old girl we learn about life in Zanseville, aka Insanesville". Alcholic father, bossy older sister, stressed out mom, and all the confusion of who we are in ninth grade. Alex Award winner!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fairly quick, easy read. You follow the (somewhat) nameless narrator through the summer and fall of what is presumably her sophomore year of high school as there is little to no reference of the just-starting-high-school angst. The characters are believable in their personalities with the over-enthusiastic art teacher, the overwhelmed mother, the pesky but lovable little brother. What I didn't care for was how the author started certain story lines and then left them as cliff hangers throughout the book. Overall, it was a likeable read but nothing outstanding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Teenage girl thinks she's a misfit, when actually she's pretty normal. Well written, funny and a delight to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. In Zanesville is a coming of age story narrated by a nameless but deeply authentic feeling 14-year-old every-girl in a small every-small town. It is set in the 70s, but except for the competition for the family phone, it could be any time, too. The novel is concerned with that time when nothing much is happening, and yet, everything is happening, and everything feels freighted with portent and meaning. Babysitting jobs, slumber parties, walks into town with a best friend stand side by side with a sudden and new uncertainty about that best friend, anxiety about all too human and fallible parents, and wonder about boys. It is all sharply observed and tenderly captured. There is not a word out of place. The last two, in particular, are perfect.
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Sisterofrachel More than 1 year ago
Ms. Beard writes in such an authentic voice. I loved the book. I read it when it first came out and I still think about some of the scenes. I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.
MissCourt More than 1 year ago
While the narrative was well done, I kept finding myself waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew up in the 70's and this book was boring to me! Sure it would be to others also
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