Filled with mystery and longing, McLain lays bare the raw emotion that guides us all...
...a haunting coming-of-age story...sun-dazzled prose that hides a cold, foreboding underbelly...gorgeous writing.
...a vivid portrait of the summer of ‘73...the relationships it expores are timeless...a genuine literary accomplishment.
...[A] beautifully written book...deeply felt and engrossingan immense pleasure to read.
Assured and ambitious... the complicated bonds of a makeshift family... lyrical precision. A deft and haunting book.
Absorbing, tantalizing, and super-heated as an endless summer day.
Paula McLain has put a poet’s ear to the urgency of adolescence...a strong throb of a first novel.
…poet and memoirist McLain compels as she excavates two tragedies.
The summer of 1973 in Moline, Ill., is enlivened and permanently marked for 15-year-old Jamie by the arrival of her charismatic, seen-it-all cousin, Fawn Delacorte, in McLain's sure-handed if familiar debut novel (after the memoir Like Family). Abandoned by her parents as a baby, Jamie is a lonely, naïve teenager from Bakersfield, Calif., sent to live with her uncle Raymond after her grandmother falls sick. She falls under Dawn's spell and embraces the dissolute life of layabout teenagers, brushing ever closer to the inevitable tragedy to come. McLain alternates her vivid first-person account of Jamie's initially glorious summer with Raymond's recollections of his fraught relationship with Suzette, his younger sister and Jamie's mother. The echoes between past and present, Jamie and Suzette, and between Suzette and Fawn ring ever louder as the novel progresses, and protectors clash with those they vainly try to protect. McLain has a good ear for the dialogue of hormonally crazed, unpredictable teenagers. But 1970s childhoods are well-trod literary territory, and it feels as if this tale has already been told. (Jan.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Adult/High School- Abandoned by her mother when she was a baby, Jamie has lived with her elderly grandparents until recently, when she was uprooted to live with her emotionally detached uncle Raymond. She is 15 in 1973, when her worldly wise cousin Fawn, 16, arrives to spend the summer with them. Insecure and lonely, Jamie loves the idea of having a live-in friend and she immediately falls under Fawn's spell. Wanting more than anything to have Fawn approve of her, Jamie begins to remake herself, and a foreboding sense of the future emerges. Woven throughout the story are flashbacks that shed light on the intense and disturbing relationship between Uncle Raymond and Jamie's mother, Suzette. The parallel stories of Suzette and Fawn shed light on two people who are both disturbed and manipulative. Raymond and Jamie are the victims of the manipulation, but McLain deftly conveys the poor choices each has made along the way. Beautiful writing makes vivid the stark malevolence of Fawn, and the foreshadowing of impending tragedy is so palpable it is frightening. Characters are well drawn and the prose magnificent. Teens will appreciate the dramatic events that lead to tragedy and will ultimately root for Jamie and her uncle.-Jane Ritter, Mill Valley School District, CA