lori_crossroads, April 15, 2008 (view all comments by lori_crossroads)
I cried both times I came to the achingly sad and hopeful end of Paula McLain’s book, where all the beautiful threads of desire and loss, spun out in her lyric voice, were woven together in the simple sentence, “Was there anything sadder than starting your life?” Her characters make my heart ache, for they represent so deeply what is flawed and ragged about all of us.
threefab, April 15, 2008 (view all comments by threefab)
I found Paula McLain’s “A Ticket to Ride” a great discovery, rich in detail and characterization and beautifully written. The central two relationships are intricate and compelling, and we are jarred into self-knowledge through seeing characters act in ways to which we can all too easily relate. Plus, McLain has a poet’s touch with a phrase, and for anyone who loves language, her imagery is sheer pleasure: “It was August. For years it was August.... wilting patio chairs... Dry grass scratched unreadable names into the back of our thighs... a molting feather pillow... rich housewives walking sneezing Pomeranians... Fawn had this effect on all males, no matter the species, as if she were a kind of a virus, or emitted a signal at a male-specific register.” And there’s McLain’s seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of music and period detail and the sometimes surprising: “...the BBs from his Daisy rifle raining down on the green water, skittering then sinking fast.” McLain draws us in with her total command of her material, the power of her story, and the richness of her language. Highly recommended.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"The summer of 1973 in Moline, Ill., is enlivened and permanently marked for 15-year-old Jamie by the arrival of her charismatic, seen-it-all cousin, Fawn Delacorte, in McLain's sure-handed if familiar debut novel (after the memoir Like Family). Abandoned by her parents as a baby, Jamie is a lonely, nave teenager from Bakersfield, Calif., sent to live with her uncle Raymond after her grandmother falls sick. She falls under Dawn's spell and embraces the dissolute life of layabout teenagers, brushing ever closer to the inevitable tragedy to come. McLain alternates her vivid first-person account of Jamie's initially glorious summer with Raymond's recollections of his fraught relationship with Suzette, his younger sister and Jamie's mother. The echoes between past and present, Jamie and Suzette, and between Suzette and Fawn ring ever louder as the novel progresses, and protectors clash with those they vainly try to protect. McLain has a good ear for the dialogue of hormonally crazed, unpredictable teenagers. But 1970s childhoods are well-trod literary territory, and it feels as if this tale has already been told." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
McLains debut novel, set in the summer of 1973, tells the story of an insecure and motherless teenager who falls under the dangerous spell of her older cousin.
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