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The writing on the wall : a novel
Lynne Sharon Schwartz
Adult Fiction SCHWART

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The aftermath of the World Trade Center attack provides a traumatic backdrop to Schwartz's latest novel (after In the Family Way), an intellectually evocative and emotionally trenchant exploration of troubled intimacy and the constitutive effects of language. Renata, a Brooklyn-based 30-something librarian with a gift for recondite tongues, is stymied in her promising affair with fellow Brooklynite Jack by her vows of "emotional celibacy," the result of a long history of family trauma, including the tragic death of her twin sister, Claudia, at age 16. When the Twin Towers are struck, Jack's assistant at his downtown social services agency perishes in the collapse, and he and Renata become the caretakers of her baby, Julio. As Renata develops an obsessive attachment to the baby as well to a mute stray teenager she names after her dead niece, Gianna (born just before Claudia's death), Schwartz artfully reveals the origins of Renata's psychic scars: the twins' overenmeshed relationship, the death of their father and institutionalization of their mother, plus Gianna's mysterious drowning. Renata's emotional wariness links to her suspicions of language in general, which are exacerbated by the president's verbal response to the terrorist attack. With Renata's complex balance of intellectual skepticism, emotional fragility and street smarts, Schwartz continues to show herself a rigorous novelist. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Schwartz (Referred Pain and Other Stories) well uses her powerful gift for description in the voice of protagonist Renata, a language researcher for the New York Public Library who finds herself close to the events of 9/11. She recounts the beautiful blue sky, the horror of the crash into the towers ("a huge marigold bursting open"), the raining paper and ash, and, finally, the confusion of the following days as the realization of who and what was lost gradually sinks in. But the disaster unearths old wounds from Renata's past: her twin sister's mysterious drowning, her father's fatal car accident, and her mother's lapse into craziness-events that left her saddled with responsibilities beyond her years. She's buried those traumas and more under a mask of obsessive routines but now, with a reliable social-worker boyfriend and a phone call from a long-lost relative, Renata has an opportunity to reconcile herself with her past. Schwartz weaves together a contemporary event of which we all feel a part with one woman's remarkable personal tragedy to create a compelling New York story. Recommended for all popular fiction collections.-Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ. Libs., Harrisonburg, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Renata
Female
Age: 34
New Yorker
Twin sister died; has trouble being intimate and emotional; becomes caretacker of her friend's baby; becomes obsessively attached to the baby; also adopts a mute teenager whom she renames Gianna, after her dead niece.
Librarian



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