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Powell's Q&A | September 3, 2014

Emily St. John Mandel: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Emily St. John Mandel



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Hot Springs

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Hot Springs Cover

ISBN13: 9780982053942
ISBN10: 0982053940
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Review:

"In his incisive latest, Becker (2008 Flannery O'Conner Prize — winner for Black Elvis) recounts the misadventures of Bernice Click, a volatile young woman determined to raise the biological daughter she gave up for adoption. With the help of her boyfriend, Bernice kidnaps five-year-old Emily from her adoptive parents in Colorado and ends up in Baltimore, where she attempts to make a new life for herself and the girl. Meanwhile, Tessa Harding, Emily's adoptive mother, tries to recover Emily without involving authorities. Struggling with the revelation of her husband's indifference to the child, not to mention his adultery and increasingly sadistic behavior, Tessa embarks on a riveting adventure. The novel relies on a far-fetched coincidence to launch Tessa's mission, but resulting scenes are sufficiently tense and thought provoking to justify the stretch, while Becker's portrayal of Tessa's faith is moving and psychologically complex. As desperation mounts on all sides, Becker piles on devastating events, creating a remarkably taut narrative and a rousing testament to humanity's capacity for resilience. Nobody gets off the hook, though they do find uneasy deliverance in unexpected places." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Vibrant, sexy, and quite possibly crazy, Bernice is determined to reclaim the child she gave up for adoption five years ago. She convinces her boyfriend, Landis, to help carry out her plan, but once the abduction is accomplished, Bernice—whose own mother was given to manic episodes and strange behavior—is plagued with doubts. Will Landis stay with her, given her volatile personality and his own drifter past? Will she and Landis both end up in jail for this crime? And, perhaps most importantly, will she fail at being a mother? Dovetailed with this is the story of the conservative Christian adoptive parents, Tessa and David, and the effect the kidnapping has on their troubled marriage. As Bernice and Landis journey across America, from Colorado Springs to Tucson to Baltimore, Bernice must confront her past and the secrets she has kept.

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Madam Pince, March 9, 2010 (view all comments by Madam Pince)
Five years after giving up her daughter for adoption, Bernice is determined to reclaim the girl from David and Tessa, the conservative Christian couple who became her parents. However, as she rushes headlong into action without a plan, she not only finds herself unprepared for parenthood, but bewildered that no one comes to her defense. As Bernice flees Colorado for her native Baltimore, their daughter's kidnapping exposes the deep flaws in David and Tessa's marriage, especially as a woman named Robin exposes David's many secrets and flaws ... none of which fit with his professed faith.

While the story sounds promising, the delivery is not. Geoffrey Becker delivers an uneven tale with little plot and no real plan, just like Bernice. Not even Emily, the little girl ostensibly at the heart of the action, is interesting. Many of the characters -- especially the adoptive father, David -- are dusty stereotypes and never emerge as real people. Even what are supposed to be revelations, such as the identity of man who impregnated Bernice all those years ago, fall flat.

Apparently Mr. Becker is capable of much better work -- his story collection, Black Elvis, won the 2008 Flannery O'Connor Prize for fiction -- but it's not evident in Hot Springs.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780982053942
Author:
Becker, Geoffrey
Publisher:
Tin House Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Parenthood
Subject:
Self-actualization (Psychology) in women
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20100231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
7.25 x 5 in 11 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Hot Springs Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Tin House Books - English 9780982053942 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In his incisive latest, Becker (2008 Flannery O'Conner Prize — winner for Black Elvis) recounts the misadventures of Bernice Click, a volatile young woman determined to raise the biological daughter she gave up for adoption. With the help of her boyfriend, Bernice kidnaps five-year-old Emily from her adoptive parents in Colorado and ends up in Baltimore, where she attempts to make a new life for herself and the girl. Meanwhile, Tessa Harding, Emily's adoptive mother, tries to recover Emily without involving authorities. Struggling with the revelation of her husband's indifference to the child, not to mention his adultery and increasingly sadistic behavior, Tessa embarks on a riveting adventure. The novel relies on a far-fetched coincidence to launch Tessa's mission, but resulting scenes are sufficiently tense and thought provoking to justify the stretch, while Becker's portrayal of Tessa's faith is moving and psychologically complex. As desperation mounts on all sides, Becker piles on devastating events, creating a remarkably taut narrative and a rousing testament to humanity's capacity for resilience. Nobody gets off the hook, though they do find uneasy deliverance in unexpected places." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
Vibrant, sexy, and quite possibly crazy, Bernice is determined to reclaim the child she gave up for adoption five years ago. She convinces her boyfriend, Landis, to help carry out her plan, but once the abduction is accomplished, Bernice—whose own mother was given to manic episodes and strange behavior—is plagued with doubts. Will Landis stay with her, given her volatile personality and his own drifter past? Will she and Landis both end up in jail for this crime? And, perhaps most importantly, will she fail at being a mother? Dovetailed with this is the story of the conservative Christian adoptive parents, Tessa and David, and the effect the kidnapping has on their troubled marriage. As Bernice and Landis journey across America, from Colorado Springs to Tucson to Baltimore, Bernice must confront her past and the secrets she has kept.
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