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April & Oliver: A Novel Hardcover – June 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446540595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446540599
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this memorable debut, Callahan offers a uniquely funereal love story that focuses on a stagnant friendship-turned-untenable romance between unlikely life-long friends. To deal with the death of her immediate family, as well as the scars of childhood abuse, April assumes the role of the jaded wild child; Oliver, her once-inseparable childhood companion, has become her polar opposite, an engaged law student poised for success. Estranged during Oliver's college years, the two reconnect with troubling results. Callahan's descriptions are vivid, and often paired with charming flashbacks to more innocent times, providing stark contrast to the tumultuous course of April and Oliver's young-adult lives. Callahan's narrative takes some supporting-character detours from the principles' love-hate relationship, including an abusive boyfriend; a manipulative and dangerous family friend, and April's strong-but-slipping Nana. Callahan's poetic style and grasp of emotion gives proper weight to April's loss and Oliver's secrets, and is sure to engage, sadden, and enthrall readers, especially in a bittersweet, somewhat surprising finale.
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Review

I'm sorry to report that since APRIL & OLIVER is Tess Callahan's debut as a novelist, an immediate regret awaits all readers on the last page of this enormously sagacious and compelling book, to wit: that it's done, finished, consumed; that there are as yet no other Callahan novels to devour, and heaven only knows how long we must wait for the author's next work to reach our greedy hands. The urgency of Callahan's narrative and its volatile juxtapositions--innocent passion and dark sexuality; duty and desire; first love and ruined love--make it impossible not to care deeply for these characters and their thwarted yearning and their heart-wrenching stories.

-Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of Easy in the Islands

Grappling fates are the DNA of suspense, and Tess Callahan braids loss, longing, romance and violence into a tense, gratifying narrative. The characters in APRIL & OLIVER feel inexorable--either destined or doomed to be together. The need to discover which--and how--keeps the reader turning pages.

-Sven Birkerts, author of Reading Life: Books for the Ages

More About the Author

Tess Callahan was born on Long Island, New York, and has lived in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Argentina and the People's Republic of China. She is a teacher, painter, hiker, dog-lover, and parent of twins. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, National Public Radio, Newsday, Boston College Magazine, Stylus Anthology and Cottonwood. An excerpt of April & Oliver was published in Agni and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives with her husband and children in northern New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

I loved the characters and was completely lost when the book ended.
D. Andrews
This book is, without a doubt, a character-driven novel; and I found all of the characters to be very real as well as very complicated.
Julie Peterson
I HATED every character in this book, and I could not stand how stereotypical everyone was.
Rachel Blumenfeld

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Shetrone VINE VOICE on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This debut novel is about a lot of things... grief, family, the ebb and flow of friendship (especially those you once thought will last a lifetime), and love (some of it unrequited). I could appreciate the delicateness of a friendship with someone of the opposite sex, and how easy it is to let friendship fade away once life starts to take you in different directions. April and Oliver are unceremoniously thrown back into each others lives following the death of her brother, and everyone seems to expect them to be able to pick up right where they left off. Unfortunately, they're not the same people they used to be. There is a tug of war between the two of them as April tries to keep her distance, ashamed of who she has turned out to be but clueless as to how to change and as Oliver looks to her for answers to his own questions. I thought it was incredibly sad that the family decided to keep Buddy's death from Nana - doesn't she deserve to grieve too? - but it did add another layer to the story. The ending here falls short of happy (which I think would have felt contrived), but it is nicely hopeful.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Grant Cohen on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The very first chapter hooked me and never let go. The writing is beautiful and the characters are so well-developed you don't want to stop reading yet you don't want to read it too fast either. When April's brother dies and her childhood best friend Oliver returns with his fiance, their unrequited sexual tension is palpable. However, April's made some bad choices in men and she even though she knows it she doesn't feel she deserves better because of her history of abuse at the hands of a family friend. Oliver tries to help her but he has secrets of his own that keep him stuck in the past and his fiance Bernadette is sandwiched in the middle of these two starcrossed, uncomsummated lovers.
The ending, though satisfying, leaves me thinking about April & Oliver and what they are doing now. Unforgettable characters that will stay with me for awhile.

I recommend April & Oliver to anyone who likes to get pulled into a story; this book has it all. There is some violence and sexual abuse, but ultimately it is a story of love, loss and relationships.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Julie Peterson on July 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
APRIL & OLIVER by Tess Callahan is just a marvelous book written by a very gifted writer. It is basically the story of April and Oliver who meet up after many years after the sudden death of April's younger brother. As children, April and Oliver were extremely close and knew each other better than anyone; however, during their separation, they didn't stay in touch and eventually grew apart. This book is, without a doubt, a character-driven novel; and I found all of the characters to be very real as well as very complicated. The reader can't help but be touched by the pain that both April and Oliver have in their lives.

Because this novel was so beautiful, I found myself reading it slowly and appreciating each and every page. I think another reason that I wasn't able to breeze through this book was because I found the story to be just gut-wrenching. I loved both April and Oliver (even when I wanted to just shake some sense into them) but they were both so unhappy and even self-destruction in so many ways. I had a difficult time with many of their actions (especially April's); and yet, I still became caught up in their lives and kept holding out hope that they would find some happiness.

The book is just incredibly well written; and it's very hard to believe that it is Ms. Callahan's debut novel. I was a little disappointed to find this out because I wanted to go back and read her prior books and now I just have to wait for her next one. Her prose is just exquisite and her dialogue is spot on. I can't get over how well she developed the characters in this book. They were all flawed and their interactions were complicated, but I felt as if I knew them by the end of this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary J. Gramlich VINE VOICE on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you are the light to another's dark, the pull to another push or the root of the problem do you help one another by being together or are you the enabling the issues. With April Simone and Oliver Night the lines are so blurred with history and confusion that it is impossible for them to see if they are a help or hindrance to one another as they have as much difficulty being together as they do apart. They have grown up together and spent so much of their lives trying to help one another by burying the secrets as much as revealing them.

But when April's brother dies unexpectedly her entire world is thrown into a new type of chaos that sees no way out of. She has dealt with abuse, neglect and total abandonment from every man she has even known and while she tries to do better it seems she may be destined to live the life that was destined to her by the past. But when Oliver had left to start a new life was he moving away from her to save himself or April.

As the story unfolds you discover that April has let everyone see her as flawed and imperfect and she is neither of these anymore than Oliver is the perfect, unflawed one - those blurry lines again. April questions her mere existence and Oliver questions everyone around him looking for a reason or cause that made him abandon his musical career and follow a path he doesn't feel passion for. They are both seeking answers and cannot decide where the answers lie or if they even exist.

But with Oliver feeling conflicted about law school and questioning his upcoming marriage once he is reunited with April the grief they feel separately is intensified together as well as all the long buried feelings.
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