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Quickening: A Novelby Laura Catherine Brown
Synopses & Reviews
1. QUICKENING by Laura Catherine Brown Reading Group Guide What role does money play in Mandy's personal development and in that of those in her world such as Tracy, Booner, Barb, her mother, her father, Priscilla, Doug? 2. How do you feel about Gert's cruelty toward and domination of her daughter? Is Gert a sympathetic character, given her own background? How are Mandy and Gert different? How are they alike? What does Gert's character reveal about motherhood, about what makes a good or bad mother? 3. How does Gert shape the person Mandy becomes? How does her father shape her? In what way does the loss of her father become an opportunity for Mandy to grow? What ideals must she surrender during her grief process? What beliefs form in their place? 4. What is the significance of the title Quickening? At what point in the book does Mandy's 'quickening' occur? Why do you believe it occurs there? 5. Compare Tracy and Mandy. Discuss their different childbearing choices, and the benefits and losses of each choice. 6. What is it about Booner that Mandy finds so compelling? What drives her to leave college and its opportunities to go and live with Booner? Why, ultimately, does the relationship between Mandy and Booner turn sour? 7. What role does alcohol play in Mandy's life and in the lives of the people in her world? What role do drugs play? How does Mandy's relationship with alcohol and drugs change in the course of the story? How do alcohol and drugs change her? 8. What is the significance of Gert's rediscovery of religion? How is Mandy's dedication to photography similar to or different from her mother's dedication to the Church of Assemblies? 9. Discuss the nature of the coming-of-age genre. How does this book adhere to the conventions of that genre? How does it differ? How is a female coming of age different than a male coming of age? 10. Do you see Mandy as a victim? Does your opinion of her change over the course of the book? What do you think will happen to Mandy after the novel's conclusion? Do you agree with the choice Mandy ultimately makes? If so, why? If not, why not? 11. Do you think of this novel as having a feminist point of view? Why or why not?
Laura Catherine Brown has been awarded residency fellowships at the Ragdale Foundation, the Norcroft Writing Retreat, the Hambridge Center, and the Ucross Foundation. Quickening is her first novel. She lives in Manhattan.
Our lives all contain growth spurts--physical ones, most obviously, but intellectual and emotional ones as well. This acutely powerful debut novel focuses on just such a time in the life of a nineteen-year-old girl. Mandy Boyle is leaving home for the first time to begin college, full of ambition and anticipation, more than ready to sever ties with her blue-collar family and their backwater town in upstate New York. Over the next six months, Mandy's life is transformed, but hardly in the way she'd anticipated. Her father's sudden death acts as a disruptive catalyst on her own life, and overnight, it seems, her childhood ends. Mandy drops out of college, moves to New York City with a man she hardly knows, goes to work, and gets herself caught in an agonizing situation that she didn't choose but is entrapped by nonetheless.
The stage in a pregnancy when a fetus first shows signs of having a life of its own is known as the "quickening"--a milestone of development as important and dramatic as when a young person leaves home for the first time. The story of Mandy's quickening--her emotionally wrenching growth spurt--is an affecting, engrossing read, about real people making real choices, reacting to the unexpected turns a life can take. Brown's writing evokes comparisons to that of pragmatic, perceptive novelists like Wally Lamb, Elizabeth Berg, and Mona Simpson as she describes a young woman's growing, acting, and choosing, for the first time, a life for herself.
From the Hardcover edition.
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