ghiel, August 10, 2006 (view all comments by ghiel)
Very evocative of both physical locale and cildhood's surprisingly complex emotional landscape:
I grew up in these near-suburban working class communities, and fondly -if sometimes bittersweetly - recalled much from that more innnocent time and place thanks to Alice's vivid, unpretentious prose......
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"Review A Day"
by Mona Simpson, Atlantic Monthly,
"This specific, full world, along with McDermott's stringent modesty and moral rigor, allows her to ponder deep contemporary and eternal questions (in her hands they seem to be the same ones) without fuss or bombast....McDermott displays a vibrant romantic hope exactly matched by a realist's awareness of daily devastation." (read the entire Atlantic review)
by Publishers Weekly,
"This is another charmer from McDermott; it's evocative, gently funny and resonant with a sense of impending loss, as all stories of youthful summers must be. There's a whisper of maudlin sentimentality throughout, but Theresa is so likable, and her observations so acute, that one easily forgives it."
by Donna Seaman, Booklist,
"Just as the calm and sparkling sea can conceal a tricky undertow, McDermott's gorgeous novel is laced with sly literary allusions and provocative insights into the enigma of sexual desire, the mutability of art, death's haunting presence, our need for fantasies, and the endless struggle to keep love pure."
by Library Journal,
"McDermott's prose is even and elegant, and the complex character of Theresa offers subtle emotion imbued with haunting prescience."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Though hobbled by a tendency toward sentimentality and self-consciousness, McDermott sculpts her small story with a meticulous eye for the telling detail and transcendent metaphor. We know what's coming, but so do the characters — that's part of this tale's bittersweet power."
by Michael Gorra, New York Times Book Review,
"McDermott's presentation of a child's growing awareness of the adult world has something classic about it....In reading this almost immaculate novel, I couldn't help seeing McDermott as if she herself were Theresa, watching some boys play king of the hill. And smiling to herself, knowing that the art of restraint is more difficult to practice, and its results more likely to last."
by John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune,
"McDermott is a subtle writer, and so while some novelists might fabricate this welter of teenage emotion out of a consummated affair, McDermott does the opposite....We fear for Theresa, and for girls like her — a fear that doesn?t fully dissipate at the conclusion of McDermott's wise, brilliantly observed novel."
by Beth Kephart, Book magazine,
"This may well be McDermott's finest achievement?Child of My Heart is a book of astonishing craft and enormous heart. Line by line evokes and pricks. Truth after truth gets spoken."
McDermott's haunting new work--her first since the bestselling "Charming Billy, " winner of the 1998 National Book Award--is narrated by a woman who was born beautiful. On the cusp of 15, her witty, deeply etched evocation of all that was really transpiring under the surface during a seemingly idyllic season gives her wry tale its remarkable vividness and impact.
In Alice McDermott's first work of fiction since her best-selling, National Book Award-winning Charming Billy, a woman recalls her fifteenth summer with the wry and bittersweet wisdom of hindsight.
The beautiful child of older parents, raised on the eastern end of Long Island, Theresa is her town's most sought-after babysitter--cheerful, poised, an effortless storyteller, a wonder with children and animals. Among her charges this fateful summer is Daisy, her younger cousin, who has come to spend a few quiet weeks in this bucolic place. While Theresa copes with the challenge presented by the neighborhood's waiflike children, the tumultuous households of her employers, the attentions of an aging painter, and Daisy's fragility of body and spirit, her precocious, tongue-in-check sense of order is tested as she makes the perilous crossing into adulthood. In her deeply etched rendering of all that happened that seemingly idyllic season, McDermott once again peers into the depths of everyday life with inimitable insight and grace.
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