Winner of the 2003 Oregon Book Award for Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
Combining the page-turning momentum of a psychological thriller with the finely observed, nuanced portrayal of a domestic drama, playwright and filmmaker Cai Emmons has written an extraordinarily assured first novel that belongs on the shelf beside Sue Miller and Jane Hamilton.
Jana Thomas has built a successful life with a loving husband, a darling six-year-old son, Evan, and a rewarding position as an emergency-room doctor. She has always been a nervous, hypervigilant parent, but Evans seemingly normal all-boy tendencies are escalating her worry into something close to hysteria, threatening her job, her marriage, and her motherhood. The real source of Jana's disintegration is a past she has kept buried for sixteen years.
She once had another name, and a younger brother, Varney, to whom Jana was more than a big sister--mother, best friend, interpreter of the world all rolled into one. When Varney violently blew everything apart, Jana ran and never looked back. Until now, when she spots a speck of Varneys rage in Evan, and the past begins to bleed into the present, gradually overwhelming it. Finally, Jana is forced to plunge into the emotional whirlpool she left behind. The results are shattering, profound, and wrenchingly moving.
"[A] notable debut, a rich read with a generous, redemptive ending." Publishers Weekly
"Gorgeous writing throughout makes for an unusually affecting and memorable debut." Kirkus Reviews
To those who meet Jana Thomas, hers seems a perfect life, with a beautiful home, a successful career as an ER doctor, a loving husband, and a darling six-year-old son named Evan. But inside, Jana is crumbling. Evan's seemingly normal all-boy tendencies are escalating her motherly worry into something close to hysteria, threatening her job, her marriage, and even her relationship with her son.
The real source of Jana's disintegration is a past she has kept buried for sixteen years. When that past begins to bleed into the present, Jana is forced to plunge into the emotional whirlpool she left behind-with results that are shattering, profound, and wrenchingly moving.
Reminiscent of Sue Miller and Jane Hamilton, Cai Emmons's extraordinary first novel strikes a fine balance between keen psychological observation and page-turning momentum.
About the Author
Cai Emmons, a summa cum laude graduate of Yale, began her career as a playwright. Her plays were read and produced at the American Place Theater, Playwrights' Horizons and Theatre Genesis. Subsequently, she attended NYU where she received an MFA in film. Her 55 minute 1981 film "A Man Around the House" won the Student Academy Award. She worked in NY film in a variety of capacities and in LA as a writer of screenplays and teleplays. She left the film business in 1996, at the age of 45, to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. She currently is on the faculty at the U. of Oregon. This is her first novel.