- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
The Isle of Youthby Laura Van Den Berg
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Lorrie Moore, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Rebecca Lee, this debut story collection cuts into the sometimes dark heart of the American family
From the tense territory of a sagging, grand porch in Texas to a gated community in steamy Thailand to a lonely apartment in nondescript suburbia, these linked stories unwind the lives of three families as they navigate ever-shifting landscapes. Wry and sharp, dark and subversive, they keep watch as these characters make the choices that will change the course of their lives and run into each other in surprising, unforgettable ways.
The Bowmans are declining Texas gentry, heirs to an airline fortune, surrounded by a patriarch's stuffed trophies and lost dreams. They will each be haunted by the past as they strive to escape its force. The Fosters are diplomats’ kids who might as well be orphans. Jill and Maizie grow up privileged amid poverty, powerless to change the lives of those around them and uncertain whether they have the power to change their own. The Guzmans have moved between Colombia and the United States for two generations, each seeking opportunity for the next, only to find that the American dream can be as crushing as it is elusive.
Amy Parker's debut collection considers--with an unfailingly observant eye--our failures and our successes, our fractures and our connections, our impact and our evanescence. She marks herself a worthy heir to the long tradition of smart women casting cool and careful glances at the American middle class.
"If ever there was a writer going places, it's Laura Van Den Berg, who follows up her debut collection, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, with the ambitious, modular The Isle of Youth, whose seven stories are arranged along the themes of family secrets with noirish intrigue. 'I Looked for You, I Called Your Name' concerns a couple's disastrous vacation in South America, where signs and portents stand in for the growing distance between them. These auguries are more literalized in 'Acrobat,' where another wife, jilted in Paris, takes up with the titular troupe of performers. The private detective sisters of 'Opa-Locka' embroil themselves in other people's business, only to be dragged back into their father's criminal past. Meanwhile, the sisters in the book's title story switch identities and get the full Chandler treatment, trailed by sinister town cars and mystery men. And there's always the missing family member that can't be completely grasped. In 'The Greatest Escape,' it's a young girl's magician father, protected by her mother's lies; in 'Antarctica,' it's an estranged brother, incinerated in an accident on the Antarctic Peninsula, leaving his sister alone in the frozen wastes with the secret that could have saved him. The Isle of Youth can seem a similarly immutable landscape, but Van Den Berg's repetitions never annoy; they enchant." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In the tradition of Lorrie Moore, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Rebecca Lee, this debut linked-story collection cuts into the sometimes dark heart of the American family.
Laura van den Bergs gorgeous new book, The Isle of Youth, explores the lives of women mired in secrecy and deception. From a newlywed caught in an inscrutable marriage, to private eyes working a baffling case in South Florida, to a teenager who assists her magician mother and steals from the audience, the characters in these bewitching stories are at once vulnerable and dangerous, bighearted and ruthless, and they will do what it takes to survive.
Each tale is spun with elegant urgency, and the reader grows attached to the marginalized young women in these stories—women grappling with the choices theyve made and searching for the clues to unlock their inner worlds. This is the work of a fearless writer whose stories feel both magical and mystical, earning her the title of “sorceress” from her readers. Be prepared to fall under her spell.
An NPR Best Book of 2013
About the Author
Laura van den Bergs debut story collection, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a finalist for the Frank OConnor International Short Story Award, a finalist for the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award, and long-listed for the Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in One Story, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, and Best New American Voices 2010, among other publications. A Florida native, she has an MFA from Emerson College and is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences. She lives in the Boston area.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like