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This title in other editions

One Heart

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One Heart Cover

ISBN13: 9780061097577
ISBN10: 0061097578
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Plot Summary
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

  1. What is the significance of the title, particularly in the context of Gladys' and Ivy's lives? Do you feel that it adequately represents the main themes of this story?

  2. This story is largely told from Gladys' and Ivy's respective points of view, with smaller portions from James and Raelene. What would the effect on the story have been had it been told solely from Ivy's point of view? Gladys'? James' or Raelenes'?

  3. One Heart is a story told by adults, but in some ways it is mostly about children. Although we never directly meet Wendell or Ann, their characters are two of the most compelling. What are some of the techniques that McCafferty uses toevoke Ann and Wendell? What kind of children do you think they were? How does the author use the camp children to illuminate Ann's and Wendell's characters?

  4. What kind of effect does it have on the story that both Gladys and Ivy have poor grammar and yet intense storytelling powers? Can you locate specific places in the story where this effect heightens the emotion of the moment? How does McCafferty differentiate the two sisters' voices?

  5. Late in the novel, James becomes enraptured with a gosling family and its journey to the lake. What is the significance of this episode? Can you locate other examples in the story where the natural world is employed to set a mood or tell us something?

  6. "I used to be a woman who thought of the eggs when she made the eggs-I liked that scrambled yellow color, and the bacon when she made the bacon-the smell and sizzle . . . . It's not as pleasant when your mind drifts. It's really not the right way to live. I'm against it. But I can't seem to make it stop." (p.40) One might construe this as Ivy's philosophy of life, do you agree? What would you say is Gladys' philosophy of life? What about Raelenes' and James'?

  7. How does the setting of Camp Timber contribute to and illuminate the sisters' story? Would another setting have worked as well? What about the kitchen as the place that Ivy and Gladys worked side by side for years?

  8. "What matters in the end, she suggests, has less to do with conventional images of happiness than with the deep, close-to-the-bone bonds that actually sustain us" (New York Times Book Review). What do you think the reviewer means by this comment? How do the themes of love and loneliness play out inthis story? Grief and redemption? Do you feel this story has a happy ending?

  9. Both of the sisters take journeys of discovery Gladys with Raelene and Ivy with James. What does Gladys learn from her journey? What does Ivy learn? Why do you suppose James allows himself to become involved with Ivy even though he is still deeply in love with Gladys? Why is Raelene so determined to befriend Gladys?

  10. At James' urging, he and Gladys revisit the lake where their three-year-old daughter, Ann, drowned. Gladys is deeply upset with herself for going in the water on that day. Why? Can you trace Gladys slow journey to forgiving herself? What are the other turning points for her?
Reading Group Guides come in packs of 20 and are available free of charge from your local bookstore, or by calling 1-800-242-7737.
Reading Group Guide ISBN: 0-06-095880-4

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Snarlyreader, September 24, 2007 (view all comments by Snarlyreader)
The story centers on two sisters - Gladys and Ivy. While the story describes their lives moving forward, it also reveals parts of their past. Each chapter rotates telling the story from one character's point of view, which is interesting.

There isn't a lot of dialogue, more first person description, but I like the way this one is written. The characters are likeable and she makes you want to read on to find out more about the secrets in their past, and how their lives will turn out.

Excellent!
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(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780061097577
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
McCafferty, Jane
Author:
McCafferty, Jane
Author:
by Jane McCafferty
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Sagas
Subject:
Sisters
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Family saga
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Number:
1st Perennial ed.
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
2
Publication Date:
20000822
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.03x5.36x.70 in. .40 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

One Heart Used Trade Paper
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$5.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Perennial - English 9780061097577 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

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.

"Synopsis" by , 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.

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