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You Know Who You Areby Ben Dolnick
Synopses & Reviews
A gorgeous novel of family life, You Know Who You Are is the story of the Vine family, Arthur, Alice, and their three children. The eldest, Will, is well-mannered and academically driven. The youngest, Cara, is a sweet little charmer. Jacob, the middle child, is less sure of who he is. He’s funny, he’s impulsive, and he is often held hostage by his urges to make chaos. But when their mother, Alice, falls ill, Jacob begins to experiment--guiltily, nervously--with the special freedoms conferred on the motherless.
Following the Vines as Jacob moves through high school, college, and beyond, You Know Who You Are is a wise, funny, elegiac novel of moving on, pulling together, and answering that most complicated of questions: who will you decide to become?
"Middle child Jacob Vine searches for his place in the world and in his family in Dolnick's wryly comic if unsurprising follow-up to Zoology. Sandwiched between golden child Will and deadly adorable younger sister Cara, Jacob never quite figures out his role, and after his mother dies of cancer when he's in seventh grade, Jacob, ill-equipped to even manage his first real romantic relationship, must add a new dimension to his half-formed identity: motherlessness. He eventually finds a niche studying biology. Of course, Jacob's fictional liberal arts college in the Adirondacks isn't Harvard, Will's alma mater, but Jacob takes to it and agreeably shuffles through the leaving-the-nest gauntlet. Dolnick can admirably distill complex adolescent angst down to precise phrases, and he has an easy hand with Jacob's adolescent romance, though the strained relationship between the brothers (Cara seems like an afterthought) is never particularly revelatory. It's a solid coming-of-age in which Dolnick does his work quietly: sincere and direct, devoid of stylistic flourishes or narrative fireworks. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Ben Dolnick grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife. He is the author of a novel, Zoology, and his work has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times and Five Chapters.
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