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And Sometimes Why Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (February 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399154523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399154522
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,617,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vogue contributing editor Johnson examines in her heartbreaking debut the ties that bind and break in the face of tragedy. Darius, a Shakespeare scholar and professor, and his wife, Sophia, head of membership at a local art museum, are mired in the banal ebb-and-flow of family life they share with their two teen daughters—bookish Miranda and imperious social butterfly Helen. A sisterly tussle over use of the family car ends with Miranda attending college orientation and finding herself attracted to fellow freshman-to-be Jason, and Helen, while riding on the back of her just-dumped boyfriend's motorcycle, getting into a horrific traffic accident. As Helen lies in the ICU suspended between life and death, the author gives voice to the people Helen has touched: Darius and Sophia find little solace in each other; Harry Harlow, the game show host who was involved in Helen's accident, witnesses his life falling apart; and Miranda awkwardly navigates the feelings Jason has stirred within her. While the wandering focus on disparate characters pulls the novel in unwieldy directions (as when Miranda drops out to follow her boyfriend to Alaska), Johnson's portrayal of a family's grieving is exquisitely crafted. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Johnson’s debut tells the story of one family’s tragedy and the ripple effect it causes. When 18-year-old Miranda McMartin and her 16-year-old sister, Helen, get into a fight over who can take the car, neither the girls nor their parents imagine the decision will result in Helen being involved in a terrible motorcycle accident involving Helen’s boyfriend. He dies, and Helen is in a coma. While the McMartins make daily pilgrimages to the hospital, decisions about Helen’s care start to divide the once tightly knit family. And the man whose car the motorcycle hit, game show host Harry Hawlow, finds his easy, comfortable life eroding around him when he’s put on forced leave from his show. As one parent clings to hope while the other tries to move on, Miranda follows her college boyfriend to the wilderness of Alaska. Unflinching and heartbreaking, Johnson’s first novel deftly depicts the different ways people react to and own tragedy, be it one that directly or tangentially affects them. The powerful story and characters will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned. --Kristine Huntley

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Customer Reviews

For me, it was just too much all over the place.
Diane
I got this book at the dollar store, and I wondered how a hardcover published in 2008 by a large commercial publisher would end up so fast costing only a dollar.
Lizzietish
It's funny, sharp, beautifully observed and virtually impossible to put down.
Book Junkie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Diane on March 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I recently read the article "Holding on to Luke" that the author, Rebecca Johnson, wrote for the New York Times. It had me in tears to read of that journey and the painful end of a life. I read the article because I had won her book (an unedited copy)in an online contest and wanted to know more about her.

While I loved her truthful article on the loss of her son, I did not love this book. For me, it was just too much all over the place. Characters popped up and disappeared shortly after or were not really fleshed out enough. The lady with the rats is one character I just didn't get. What was the point of that whole storyline? I assume it made it into the finished product but I am not sure. I didn't like the character of Harry at all and I found Sophia, the mother, to be too contrived. I did not feel her grief in this story at all and the way she just took off to another city...well I just didn't get it.

I was really hoping to like this book as the premise of it was indeed thought provoking but I just did not relate to the characters at all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jane on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a good read and refreshingly new! It has all the elements of a well-written story - interesting characters, a page-turning plot - plus insights into the emotions of characters for today's audience: a reality show host, college students, a journey into Alaska, etc. Written by a talented journalist in the know who also has an imagination, this title goes to the top of my list!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Neises on March 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is extremely powerful if you like your spouse, feel understood by him or her, are accustomed to disagreeing about big things, and believe that even major problems will sort themselves out. The writer makes the storm of resentment between husband and wife both a logical outcome of events and a complete mystery. She resolves the disorientation and anger in a way I didn't expect but was sure would be true. The end is spare and incredibly beautiful.

As a mother of two young daughters, I thought I might not be up for the plot. Interestingly, there are no manipulations that force you to tears. The book asks good questions about how much parents can know, or should try to know, about their teenage kids, and about the usefulness of research as a technique for reorienting oneself and building inner resources in a tragedy.

[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emer Foley on March 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is startling good. Not a young adult book at all like this last reviewer wrote. please ignore all that junk. This is one of the best books I've read in years. It's dramatic and funny and moving and touching without ever being maudlin. I was moved to tears. This woman is a writer to watch with skills this great in her first book I can't wait to watch for the great work this writer is destined for. So thank you Ms Johnson for this amazing book. You're now one of my favorite writers along with Carolyn See, John Updike and all the great modern authors of this modern era. I was so amazed by the quality of this book! Clancy OHara
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Book Junkie on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
One of the best books of 2008. It's funny, sharp, beautifully observed and virtually impossible to put down. I started reading it at 9pm and finally closed it around 2 am. These are characters who are so fully alive you can't shake them even when you're finished; you keep wondering what they're up to once the book is done. Johnson is a great writer and greater observer of human nature. What's unusual about this book is that it is both deeply profound and highly enertaining. And in case there's any confusion, this is absolutely not "chick lit". Men who value compelling fiction will love this book just as much as women. The male characters are wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Charme HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came across this novel while browsing Amazon, downloaded a sample on my Kindle, was hooked, and immensely enjoyed reading the complete novel.

A sixteen year old girl who has hooked up with an older guy suffers a traumatic head injury when she is riding with him on a motorcycle that crashes into a car driven by a celebrity game host. That accident leaves her in a coma with no hope of recovery, and causes her father (a college literature professor), mother (an unfulfilled artist) and older sister (college freshman) to re-examine their relationships with each other and how they want to lead their own lives. While the celebrity game host is not at fault, the accident also thrusts him into the public spotlight, and causes him to re-examine his relationship with his own wife and what he wants to do.

The accident that caused the coma serves as a catalyst to explore family dynamics and the self awareness of the main characters. The author does this quite skillfully. Thus this novel is not really about making moral decisions so much as it is about making personal decisions that were not previously considered before the accident and the chain of events that it causes.

Don't be misled by the reviews that suggest that this novel is simply about whether to pull the plug on a family member who has lapsed into a coma without any hope of recovery. Rather that situation serves as the backdrop for the unexpected ripples that it causes in various different lives. The writing is smooth and clean, the author nicely captures both physical locations and human emotions, and creates a variety of characters that are very real people.
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