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One Heartby Jane Mccafferty
Synopses & Reviews
I make my little friends up here at camp and school, but I'm drawn to the cheerful. Life is short and I'm not here for the gloom. I been a good sister to Gladys, and that's enough gloom for any one soul, and I don't say that to blame her, and it's not like we haven't had some laughs even in the darkest of dark years. But Gladys had a hard life. I say had not because she's dead. I say had because I think it's changed now. --Ivy A small wind bent the flames. I peered over at Raelene's firelit face, which looked young, dangerously young. Needy. I rowed back inside myself all the way for a clear moment. I could row myself back inside like I was a cave. A cave with ice on the walls, nice and dark. I could see the world and anyone in it standing at the cave's mouth, framed and manageable. I had to do this right away with Raelene. Because I see now that she scared me . . . Raelene dragged me out of my cave. Mad at her for even showing up. I wished she'd go back to where she came from . . . Of course, once you're out of the cave, you're out. You're rearranged. Bigger. So if you try going back in the cave, the fits no longer quite right. --Gladys
Gladys and Ivy are sisters and reluctant best friends. For the past ten years they've cooked side by side in the kitchen at Camp Timber and Timber winter school in a quiet, rural town in upstate New York. On the outside both women are similar-middle-aged, generously built, plainly dressed. Sadly, Gladys' lifetime has been marked by grief, including a divorce and the immeasurable loss of both of her children. While Ivy has been there with her through all of it, wanting to console and help, Gladys has been too frozen inside her griefto accept her sister's offering.
Then one April day, seventeen-year-old Raelene appears at the screen door of the sisters' house. A mysterious character, "with her long hair and pale face walking through the closed-up town on a bitter evening in her Salvation Army black coat," Raelene ultimately helps free Gladys to take a long denied emotional journey. While Raelene and Gladys travel across the country on a Greyhound bus, Ivy is left behind to grapple with her sister's absence and an inner life long ignored. Then, shortly after Gladys' departure, an unexpected visitor arrives on her doorstep-Gladys' estranged husband, James-further challenging Ivy's own quiet existence and driving a wedge between the sisters.
The sisters' temporary parting of ways allows both Gladys and Ivy to face truths about themselves and their lives that their well ordered co-existence helped keep at bay. In the end, they arrive at a new and transformed understanding of their relationship-and of their own lives. Questions for Discussion
Reading Group Guide ISBN: 0-06-095880-4
From the award-winning author of the acclaimed short story collection Director of the Worldcomes this charmingly poignant tale of two sisters whose experiences often separate them but whose love for eachother is deepened over a lifetime. Bonded by their affection and shared loneliness, Gladys and Ivy remain divided by a wall of silence that prevents Gladys from accepting the solace Ivy desperately wants to give. But their quiet lives are upended when a young woman with a mysterious past arrives on their doorstep and whisks Gladys away on a journey of discovery. Ultimately Gladys's experience transforms both sisters, teaching them the importance of emotional honesty and the value of family.
In the tradition of Anne Tyler and Louise Erdrich, One Heartis a moving tale of friendship, forgiveness, and redemption-a remarkable achievement from an exquisitely talented writer.
In this charmingly poignant tale, two sisters, bonded by affection and a shared loneliness, have trouble bridging a gap of emotional silence until a young woman comes along and whisks one of the sisters away on a journey of discovery.
About the Author
Jane McCafferty was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for a section of One Heart. Her stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Story, Witness, and other publications, and her short story collection, Director of the World, was awarded the 1992 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She teaches at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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