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Family Historyby Dani Shapiro
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the best-selling memoir Slow Motion ("Chilling...her vision is unblinking" — New York Times Book Review; "Riveting...a breathtaking combination of candor and bravado" — San Francisco Chronicle), a ferociously paced new novel about a woman losing control of her life, her marriage, and her kids, and discovering that you can do everything right and still find the world you've made slipping away.
Rachel Jensen has it all: a husband she adores, challenging work in art restoration, a terrific teenage daughter, and a new baby on the way. Then her infant son is injured in an accident in her daughter's arms, and that accident begets a terrifying lie. Set in a small Massachusetts town, Family History is about a family spiraling toward disintegration, the terrible force of guilt in children, and a mother's nightmarish realization that she cannot protect her own child.
As the life the Jensens have so carefully built begins its slow collapse, we see with excruciating clarity the frailty of our strongest allegiances and the precarious ledge upon which our most vital relations — marriage, parenthood — are balanced. Family History blazes through this intimate and highly charged territory with stunning velocity, and marks a bold new step forward for the prodigiously gifted Dani Shapiro.
"The gripping narrative has the deeply felt emotional fidelity of a true story; it's a book some readers will finish in one sitting....Shapiro writes luminously about marital love and contented domestic routines, and with brutal insight about the corrosive misery of guilt and shame. Crafted with assurance, this novel holds a mirror to contemporary life." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Static. Gracefully written, but, after the first few chapters, nothing builds until the uplifting (and unearned) close." Kirkus Reviews
"Disaster slams into the charmed lives of an arty couple in small-town Massachusetts....The fierce emotional pitch would seem melodramatic were it not for Shapiro's understanding of the mother's anxious, guilt-ridden world." The New Yorker
"With Family History, a domestic drama about the havoc wreaked on a close, loving family by a teenage daughter whose adolescent misery spirals out of control, Dani Shapiro stakes her turf in the deliberately upsetting but ultimately heartwarming land of Parental Nightmare Fiction." Heller McAlpin, The Los Angeles Times
From the highly acclaimed author of the best-selling memoir Slow Motion, a gripping new novel about a family unraveling, and a mother's helpless attempt to protect her children and her marriage. At its heart is the question: What happens when the person threatening to destroy your family is your own daughter? Set in a small Massachusetts town, Family History is about the disintegration of a family, the terrible force of guilt in children, and Rachel Jensen's nightmarish realization that she cannot protect her own child. With consummate skill, it tells the story of a wife and mother losing control — of her life, her marriage, and her kids. Vivid, powerful, gripping from first to last, Family History takes Dani Shapiro into bold new territory.
About the Author
Dani Shapiro is the author of three acclaimed novels, Playing with Fire, Fugitive Blue, and Picturing the Wreck, and the best-selling memoir Slow Motion. She teaches in the graduate writing program at The New School, and has written for The New Yorker, Granta, Elle, and Ploughshares, among other magazines. She lives with her husband and son in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
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