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Anna In-Between Hardcover – September 1, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Nunez deftly explores family strife and immigrant identity in her vivid latest. When Anna Sinclair, a New York City book editor, takes a vacation to her parents' home in the Caribbean, she discovers that her mother, Beatrice, has advanced breast cancer. Beatrice rejects all suggestions that she be treated in the U.S.—she believes that, as a black woman, she'll receive second-rate care—leaving Anna and her father, John, to tread lightly between respecting Beatrice's wishes and steering her toward what is best for her. As a prominent black family on a largely white island, the Sinclairs are used to straddling two worlds, and Anna's mother's fears cause Anna to examine her thoughts about race. Fiction best achieves the universal through the specific. It is by telling stories that are plausible, about characters who are believable, that the writer eases us in to exploring the many facets of the human condition, Anna thinks at one point. Nunez meets these guidelines and more with expressive prose and convincing characters that immediately hook the reader. (Sept.)
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Nunez, an award-winning author of seven novels (e.g., Prospero's Daughter ), has created a moving and insightful character study while delving into the complexities of identity politics. Highly recommended for fiction collections --Library Journal *Starred Review*--August 15, 2009

Traveling back to her Caribbean island home on vacation from her high-pressure job as a book editor in Manhattan, Anna Sinclair is predisposed to be at odds with the vast dichotomy between her two worlds. Not only does the languid pace of tropical life take some adjustment but Anna is perennially frustrated by the fractious relationship with her mother, taking quick umbrage at the hypercritical woman's subtle faultfinding. So it goes until the day when her normally proper and reserved mother swallows her pride and reveals the hideous lump that has deformed her breast. Shocked by her mother's life-threatening condition, appalled by her father's seeming indifference to his wife's deteriorating health, Anna struggles to convince her parents to return with her to New York, where her mother can receive proper care. Mostly eschewing her traditional, sweeping themes of race and class structure within the colonialism of island culture, Nunez (Prospero's Daughter, 2006) offers a more intimate portrait of the unknowable secrets and indelible ties that bind husbands and wives, mothers and daughters. --Booklist--August 1, 2009

The title of her latest novel suggests a sit-com, or the upbeat identity lit marketed to teenagers. But Elizabeth Nunez layers "Anna In-Between," a psychologically and emotionally astute family portrait, with dark themes like racism, cancer and the bittersweet longing of the immigrant. Foremost, she explores the late innings of a successful marriage, in which husband and wife cling together in the shadow of mortality. --New York Times Book Review, September 13, 2009 (Editors Choice)

--Ms. Magazine --"The award-winning author of Prospero's Daughter has written a novel more intimate than her usual big-picture work; this moving exploration of immigrant identity has a protagonist caught between race, class and a mother's love."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933354844
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933354842
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,859,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Nunez immigrated to the US from Trinidad after completing high school there. She is the author of eight novels. Boundaries (PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award and nominated for the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Fiction); Anna In-Between (long-listed for an IMPAC Dublin International Award and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal ); Prospero's Daughter (2010 Trinidad and Tobago One Book, One Community selection; New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, 2006 Florida Center for the Literary Arts One Book, One Community selection, and 2006 Novel of the Year for Black Issues Book Review); Bruised Hibiscus (American Book Award); Discretion (short-listed for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award); Grace; Beyond the Limbo Silence (Independent Publishers Book Award); and When Rocks Dance. Most of Nunez's novels have also been published as audio books, and two are in translation, in Spanish and German. Nunez has also written several monographs of literary criticism published in scholarly journals, and is co-editor of the anthology, Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Woman Writers at Home and Abroad.

Nunez was co-founder of the National Black Writers Conference, which she directed for eighteen years with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Reed Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. She was executive producer for the 2004 Emmy nominated CUNY TV series, Black Writers in America. Her awards include 2013 National Council for Research on Women Outstanding Trailblazer Award; 2013 Caribbean American Distinguished Writer Award; 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Lifetime Literary Award; 2011 Barnes and Noble Poets and Writers, Writers for Writers Award. Nunez is a member of several boards, including the Center for Fiction, and CUNY TV. She is a judge for several national and international literary awards, including the Dublin IMPAC International Literary Award, and gives readings of her work across the country and abroad. Nunez received her PhD in English from New York University. She is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, the City University of New York, where she teaches creative writing, fiction.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Anna is in between her parents. The setting for this novel is an unnamed Caribbean island where an elderly couple, Beatric and John Sinclair, were born and lived their lives. Their only child, Anna, the editor for a little-known publishing house in New York City, has returned to the island to spend thirty-one days with her parents. They have lived for many years in their lovely gated home where Beatrice allows John his fish pond. She is in charge of everything domestic, including daily guidance given to her elderly gardener and her housekeeper. All meals, including afteroon tea, have strictly adhered to times. This is a mixed-race family whom the reader learns about slowly as the novel moves from day to day, in routines that could become boring without the back stories.
John is a well-respected man on the island. And his wife has maintained a well-established decorum that she feels is necessary for the elite class. Anna, however, has left for the United States. Her mother sees no reason for having done so except Beatrice is proud that her daughter has become an editor in a publishing house.
Beatrice was not born into that upper class. And slowly we are given a historical tour of how people of various races have come to the island, mixed--or not mixed--and have formed themselves into a defined class system, disrupted now by drug trafficking.
Beatrice is a woman who adheres to rigid personal standards about personal space. Then something happens that challenges her, forcing her to deal with that rigidity.
I would have given this five stars except for one factor. I become annoyed with this new way of writing novels that seems to be--unfortunately--in vogue now, almost as though the novelist is now expected to write as though the novel is a movie script: They are in the living room. They are in the garden.
That aside, the plot is well developed, the characters believable, and the ambiguities life offers ones with which this reader easily connects.
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Format: Hardcover
Anna, a book editor for a small imprint in New York City, returns home to her Caribbean place of birth. This is her usual yearly vacation to visit with her parents, Beatrice and John Sinclair. Only, this time she discovers a crisis and the title begs, who is Anna in between? Mother and daughter have an adversarial relationship; one in which the father cautiously navigates.

As Anna visits, she discovers as much as things change they remain the same. Her mother's typical behavior is, at times, deplorable to Anna and her father's apathetic attitude towards her behavior, is more than she can stomach. Anna discovers her mother has breast cancer, which has not been diagnosed by a physician. Anna attempts to have her return to the States for treatment, but she refuses, while her father stands tall with her mother to Anna's dismay. Her mother's refusal comes on the heels of her distrust for all that is American.

Nunez delves into the behavioral and psychological development of the characters by recounting their familial history on the island. The Sinclair's are one of the island's most distinguished and respected families. Her mother often boasts about her daughter living in the Sates. However, her mother cannot understand why Anna rejects her roots. Anna in turn muses about her own behavior, back in the States, as she justifies her rejection of her birthplace.

ANNA IN BETWEEN by Elizabeth Nunez explores the former colonialism on this Caribbean island and all the factors that manifest the behaviors of the current natives. The author explores race and the class system with depth. When the conclusion is reached, the reader has received a history lesson of the local inhabitants and more specifically, the Sinclairs; a history Anna had no knowledge of.
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Format: Hardcover
A compelling story of a daughter caught between her Caribbean roots and the lifestyle that she has embraced while living in America. She is also caught between her "uppity" mother and and her father whom she feels is just "along for the ride." Anna is home visiting her parents in the Caribbean and discovers that her mother not only has breast cancer, but has allowed it to fester for at least two years. Torn by her mother's pride and need to feel superior to the low class, Anna blames her father for not making her mother seek medical attention. During this journey, Anna who for years felt rejected by her mother, learns the truth about why her mother is the person she is. She also learns that her father is not perfect. In addition, she finds that her mother is a better person than she would ever expect and that she is her mother's daughter.
Anna In- between, is a coming of age story of mother and daughter. The book starts out a little slow, but it does pick up and reads like a book of poetry. I would definitely recommend this book for mothers and daughters who are struggling in their relationships. I am looking forward to more from Ms. Nunez.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
easy read, enjoyable, forgettable ... maybe trys too hard to frame the ubiquitous problematic mother-daughter relationship as a race/class issue
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