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Joyce Maynard
Adult Fiction MAYNARD

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From Publishers' Weekly:

While the first 50-odd pages of Maynard's (To Die For; At Home in the World)new novel are emotionally harrowing, perseverance is rewarded. Set both in Brooklyn and the small town of Davis, Calif., following the events of September 11, the book tells the coming-of-age story of a girl whose mother goes to work one morning and doesn't come back. Wendy, who must bear the burden of having the last conversation with her mother end in anger, must also help care for her four-year old half-brother, Louie, while her stepfather, Josh, struggles to deal with his own grief. Attempting to escape her depressing surroundings and numb state of mind, Wendy leaves her family and best friend to live in California with her estranged father, Garrett. There she meets a colorful cast of characters, including Garrett's cactus-loving girlfriend, Carolyn. She also encounters bookstore owner Alan, who affectionately cares for his autistic son; a young single mother struggling to parent her newborn; and a homeless skateboarding teenager in search of his long-lost brother. The lack of quotation marks to set off dialogue makes the text difficult to read at times, and Louie seems a little too adult, even for a precocious child, but the intense subject matter and well-crafted flashbacks make for a worthy read. Though some may be tempted to charge Maynard with exploiting a national tragedy, most readers will find the novel an honest and touching story of personal loss, explored with sensitivity and tact. Maynard brings national tragedy to a personal level, and while the loss and heartache of her characters are certainly fictional, the emotions her story provokes are very real. (Feb. 22) Forecast: Presented by St. Martin's as "the first work of fiction to come directly out of the September 11 experience" (which it is not; Lawrence Block's Small Town, for one, reviewed in Forecasts, Jan. 20, stems directly from those events), this novel should appeal to a wide spectrum of readers, including those who have avidly followed the long career of the sometimes controversial author. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In what might be the first, but certainly not the last, novel about the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the friends and relatives of the victims, Maynard (To Die For) offers a sensitive account of how 13-year-old Wendy copes with the death of her mother. To escape her grief-and the guilt she feels because she had a fight with her mother the morning of the attacks-Wendy decides to leave her stepfather and little brother, Louie, in Manhattan and move in with her father, who has been largely absent from her life and lives in California. Through the people she comes to know, including her father's cactus-growing girlfriend, the homeless teenage boy whom she befriends, and especially the owner of a bookstore who recommends good reads, Wendy gradually realizes that she still has a responsibility to the living and that by leaving New York she has abandoned Louie. For the most part, Maynard does a wonderful job of getting inside Wendy's head, especially at the beginning, and the relationship between brother and sister is very well handled. But once Wendy gets to California, the book's momentum flags, and all of the various subplots seem forced. Recommended for large public libraries.-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Wendy
Age: 13
Her mother was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Wendy's stepfather.

Wendy's irresponsible estranged father.

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