Splendid...seductive...vivid.... In sketches, landscapes, and erotic etchings, [Anshaw] carries not just one but all her characters through a quarter century of adulthood. And she makes the task look graceful.
(Starred review.) The one that must be carried when the Kenney siblings add themselves up is the girl who was hit and killed when Nick and Alice were driving home, stoned and stupid, from their sister Carmen’s wedding. That’s the first chapter: the rest of the novel and the rest of their lives—sex and drugs and prison visits, family parties and divorce, raising teenagers, painting, politics, and addiction—play out with that guilt and loss forever in the background. Anshaw has a deft touch with the events of ordinary life, giving them heft and meaning without being ponderous. As the siblings’ lives skip across time, Carmen’s marriage, shadowed by the accident, falls apart; painter Alice’s career moves forward unlike her life, as she remains stuck on the same woman, her former sister-in-law; and astronomer Nick fights, with decreasing success, his craving for drugs. Funny, touching, knowing—about painting and parents from hell, about small letdowns and second marriages, the parking lots where people go to score, and most of all, about the ways siblings shape and share our lives—Anshaw (Seven Moves) makes it look effortless. Don’t be fooled: this book is a quiet, lovely, genuine accomplishment.
(Starred review.) In her fourth novel (after Lucky in the Corner), award-winning writer Anshaw presents memorable characters whose lives have been affected by a single tragedy, which results in heartbreak and missed second chances. Twenty years earlier, siblings Alice and Nick leave their sister Carmen's wedding at 3 a.m., stoned, tipsy, and unfamiliar with the dark country roads; Olivia, Nick's girlfriend, is driving. A few miles on, Olivia hits and kills a girl walking on the side of the road. Over the years, the accident is always in the background for all the characters. Alice, a successful artist, goes in and out of lesbian relationships and obsessively paints more than a dozen portraits of the girl who was killed. Carmen's marriage does not last, and she buries herself in worthy causes. Olivia serves a brief prison sentence and then leaves Nick because of his drug habit. Nick, now a promising astronomer, is the one who broods the most deeply over the past. Verdict: Anshaw deftly depicts family ties broken and reconnected, portraying the best and the worst of this group of eccentrics. Recommended for readers of well-crafted literary fiction. —Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO
From a 1983 wedding through Election Day 2008, Anshaw (Lucky in the Corner, 2002, etc.) tracks a Chicago family unsettled by a fatal accident. [Characters] haunted by memories of the dead girl...yet Anshaw doesn't suggest the accident fundamentally changed the arcs of their lives; her understanding of human fallibility and existential contingency is too subtle for that kind of artistic determinism. Instead, she quietly follows her characters through the usual stuff of growing up and growing older: marriages, breakups, material success and spiritual uncertainty.... Sharply observed and warmly understanding—another fine piece of work from this talented author.
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