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A Ticket to Ride: A Novel Hardcover – January 8, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061340510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061340512
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,294,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The summer of 1973 in Moline, Ill., is enlivened and permanently marked for 15-year-old Jamie by the arrival of her charismatic, seen-it-all cousin, Fawn Delacorte, in McLain's sure-handed if familiar debut novel (after the memoir Like Family). Abandoned by her parents as a baby, Jamie is a lonely, naïve teenager from Bakersfield, Calif., sent to live with her uncle Raymond after her grandmother falls sick. She falls under Dawn's spell and embraces the dissolute life of layabout teenagers, brushing ever closer to the inevitable tragedy to come. McLain alternates her vivid first-person account of Jamie's initially glorious summer with Raymond's recollections of his fraught relationship with Suzette, his younger sister and Jamie's mother. The echoes between past and present, Jamie and Suzette, and between Suzette and Fawn ring ever louder as the novel progresses, and protectors clash with those they vainly try to protect. McLain has a good ear for the dialogue of hormonally crazed, unpredictable teenagers. But 1970s childhoods are well-trod literary territory, and it feels as if this tale has already been told. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Abandoned by her mother when she was a baby, Jamie has lived with her elderly grandparents until recently, when she was uprooted to live with her emotionally detached uncle Raymond. She is 15 in 1973, when her worldly wise cousin Fawn, 16, arrives to spend the summer with them. Insecure and lonely, Jamie loves the idea of having a live-in friend and she immediately falls under Fawn's spell. Wanting more than anything to have Fawn approve of her, Jamie begins to remake herself, and a foreboding sense of the future emerges. Woven throughout the story are flashbacks that shed light on the intense and disturbing relationship between Uncle Raymond and Jamie's mother, Suzette. The parallel stories of Suzette and Fawn shed light on two people who are both disturbed and manipulative. Raymond and Jamie are the victims of the manipulation, but McLain deftly conveys the poor choices each has made along the way. Beautiful writing makes vivid the stark malevolence of Fawn, and the foreshadowing of impending tragedy is so palpable it is frightening. Characters are well drawn and the prose magnificent. Teens will appreciate the dramatic events that lead to tragedy and will ultimately root for Jamie and her uncle.—Jane Ritter, Mill Valley School District, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

The writing is sensual and heartbreaking, the study of character honest and deep.
McLain draws us in with her total command of her material, the power of her story, and the richness of her language.
So, I had expected another well-written story with fascinating characters and some compelling plot twists.
R. Caras

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on January 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This novel is a treasure -- it simultaneously captures the hopefulness of a coconut-scented summer's day and the loneliness of a girl who yearns for female intimacy. Who hasn't been there? McLain's descriptions of Jamie's internal and external worlds bring it all back.

Having read all of McLain's poetry and her memoir, her new novel is no surprise. The writing is sensual and heartbreaking, the study of character honest and deep. The secrets that connect Jamie and her uncle will haunt you just as they do their characters.

If you liked Dorothy Allison's Ruth Anne in [...] out of NC or Carson McCullers's Frankie in The Member of the Wedding or Marilyn Robinson's Ruth in Housekeeping, then you'll like Paula McLain's Jamie in A Ticket to Ride.

Read this novel & then go back and read McLain's other work. You won't be sorry.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Summary, no spoilers.

This story takes place primarily in the summer of 1973, and the location is Moline, Illinois. Our 15 year old protagonist Jamie lives with her uncle Raymond. Jamie was raised in Bakersfield by her grandparents, but when the grandmother got ill, Jamie was taken in by Raymond. We know that Jamie's mother was named Suzette and that she basically abandoned Jamie when Jamie was a baby, although she did appear briefly in her life after that. Jamie has fantasized about Suzette and hopes that someday her mother will come to reclaim her. She especially was hoping this would happen when the grandmother fell ill. But Suzette did not appear.

At the beginning of this summer in 1973, Jamie's wild child cousin Fawn, aged 16, comes to live with her and Raymond. We know that Fawn was sent to live in Moline as some sort of punishment for some misbehavior at home, but Fawn's version of events comes into dispute later on in the story. What we do know is that Fawn is beautiful, manipulative, and determined to have a good time.

Plain Jamie becomes enamored with Fawn and her lifestyle, and lets Fawn influence her in both the way she looks and the way she behaves. The problem of course is that Fawn is a selfish, troubled girl, who doesn't really care about anyone else.

We know from the get-go that there is a bad ending to this summer in Moline. We don't know what it is, but the author does a good job of foreshadowing the tragedy. And the denouement is stunning and affecting - I was not expecting it.

Add to all this narrative chapters that take place years earlier, when Raymond is driving out to take care of his younger sister Suzette. We know that Suzette is a mess, and makes poor choices in life to say the least.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. You on January 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's gorgeously written, so I was somewhat surprised that I didn't love A Ticket to Ride. The main reason was the going back and forth between the present and the past, which I found distracting - just when I was beginning to get involved in Jamie's and Fawn's story, the novel took me back years, to find out about Suzette. And while the end made it clear why this narrative device was necessary, it didn't make it any more engaging.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shannon L. Yarbrough VINE VOICE on March 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Jamie lives with her Uncle Raymond because her mother Suzette left home and has always been a sort of wild child always on the go and never looking back. Jamie is a shy outcast, new in town, out of place, with no sense of belonging. And then her cousin Fawn shows up to stay with them. Fawn is gorgeous and mature, oozes confidence, and loves to flirt. She slowly pulls Jamie out of her shell one summer in the 70s as the two become friends.

There are two stories here, alternating throughout the book. We have the past where Raymond tries to find his sister and offer her protection, and then we have the present which follows Fawn and Jamie and their mischeivious friendship. Each is delicate in its own way, and also somewhat mirrors the other as your read further along.

I found the characters to be well developed and each full of mystery in a way and oh so fragile. I was so anxious to see where their conflicts would take them. This is a nice slow coming-of-age story which is, more than anything, meant to be admired for the writing itself. As the story builds to its climax, we find ourselves with less than 50 pages to read, but the journey there was both heartfelt and meaningful.

This book is about loss, and about friendships we often have as teens despite our parents warning us about that "bad kid" from around the block. It's about music, shag carpet, baby oil tans, and TV shows that definied a generation. It's about connections that we long for as human beings whether it be from a relative or just a good close friend. It's about sneaking out on a Friday night and going somehwere you aren't supposed to.

I would consider this book to be almost a teen reading level, and even targeted more toward girls, but as a man in my 30s I really did fall in love with McLain's style and thought this was a good book. What it lacked in action or in its climax, it certainly made up for in imagery and style.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the long hot summer of 1973, two young teenage girls push the boundaries, hoping to experience whatever it will take to make them cool, sexy, and happy.

For Jamie, the exploration is about a motherless girl searching for approval and acceptance, which is why she is so willing to follow the lead of her cousin Fawn, who has ended up in Moline, Illinois because she is trouble personified. Fawn's version of the events that brought her to Illinois casts her in the most positive light possible. And to Jamie, who has been shunted back and forth between relatives after her mother Suzette took off one day years before, Fawn's behavior may send up red flags, but she is ill-equipped to interpret the signs.

A Ticket to Ride: A Novel (P.S.) alternates between Jamie's point of view and her Uncle Raymond's, and as we follow the story arcs of the two characters, the picture fills in and presents the full story. Each chapter is titled with songs from the era, and sometimes, I could almost hear the music lilting in the background.

As the summer draws to a close, these two young girls seeking excitement have stumbled upon a whole world of trouble and tragedy.

As Jamie is trying to sort out and understand what has happened, she and her uncle finally sit down to talk, and in a few moments of soul-searching honesty, Jamie learns the whole saga about her mother and what happened so long ago. Examining the realities of the past and revisiting the moments of one hot summer full of errors in judgment, Jamie will finally begin to discover her place and her identity.
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More About the Author

Paula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress--before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996. Since then, she has received fellowships from the corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her first book of poetry, Less of Her, was published in 1999 from New Issues Press and won a publication grant from the Greenwall Fund of the Academy of American Poets. She's also the author of a second collection of poetry, Stumble, Gorgeous, a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up In Other People's Houses, and the novel, A Ticket to Ride. Her most recent book is The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage and upstart years in 1920's Paris, as told from the point of view of his wife, Hadley. She teaches in the MFA Program in Poetry at New England College, and lives with her family in Cleveland.

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