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Between Here and April Hardcover – October 7, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125629
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,505,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. How could a mother kill her children? This breathtaking first novel from photojournalist Kogan (Shutterbabe) attempts a heart-wrenching answer. Elizabeth Lizzie Burns Steiger, a 41-year-old TV producer/journalist, has a hallucination while watching a performance of Medea at a Manhattan theater; she sees her best friend in first grade, April Cassidy, who was killed by April's depressed mother, Adele, in 1972 in Potomac, Md., along with April's sister. In addition to exploring her memories in therapy, Lizzie interviews the Cassidys' former neighbor and others who knew the family for a proposed cable network documentary, but a priceless Pandora's box—tapes of Adele with her psychiatrist—provides the most startling revelations. Kogan skillfully interweaves Lizzie's struggles with her troubled marriage, parenting and a personal trauma shared in the Balkans with a former lover in this unflinching portrait of filicide, which still manages to find light in the darkness of a very disturbing subject. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

What prompted Adele Cassidy to commit suicide and kill her two young daughters, April  and Lily? That’s the 30-year-old mystery haunting photojournalist Elizabeth Burns in this engaging first novel. Burns, who had been childhood pals with April, grapples with the tragedy’s grisly details as she reflects upon the realities of her own unhappy adult existence: an unsatisfying job shooting puff pieces, a husband who lately seems only interested in sex if it involves S and M.  Burns interviews the Cassidys’ remaining neighbors and friends, hoping the resulting story will help her break back into the hard-news biz. (She is also pondering an assignment in Iraq, which, as bad luck would have it, would pair her up with an old flame.) Although the novel’s characters hold our interest, Kogan’s fiction lacks the fire of her racy memoir, Shutterbabe (2000), which documented her experiences as a wartime photographer. She seems more at home writing about real-life international matters than life on the domestic front. --Allison Block

More About the Author

1966-1966: Born in Boston, MA; moved to Adelphi, MD six months later. Allegedly.

1966-1970: The preschool years; fuzzy memories of hippies, astronauts.

1970-1978: Moved from Adelphi to Potomac, MD. Attended flower-shaped elementary school that had no walls; first writing award; weird obsession with Jonestown massacre.

1978-1981: Hormones.

1981-1984: Gigantic public high school; reams of angsty poetry; first pieces published in Seventeen.

1984-1988: The college years, which coincided with the crack/AIDS years: mugged at gunpoint unrelentingly, mated cautiously; made films, shot photos, wrote articles for the school paper, performed in school plays and one film, Key Exchange; rejected by every creative writing course in the Harvard catalogue.

1988-1992: The croissant/photojournalism years; stored clothes, personal items in Paris, France, while parachuting in from conflict to conflict (Afghanistan, Israel, Romania, Zimbabwe, the USSR, etc.) Won awards, had exhibitions; images published in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, L'Express, Libération, Géo, Stern, etc.

1992-1998: Moved from Moscow to New York; produced TV for ABC then NBC News; got married, had a couple of babies, won an Emmy, inexpertly juggled work and kids; loudly whined for subsidized daycare, secretly pined to be a writer.

1998-now: Wrote bestselling Shutterbabe, followed by unpublishable drivel, followed by Between Here and April, Hell is Other Parents, and the New York Times bestselling The Red Book; published essays in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Elle, More, Slate, Paris Match, O, and others; shot photo assignments; produced and shot a documentary in Pakistan for CNN in the wake of 9/11; became a columnist for The Financial Times; performed live on stage with The Moth, Afterbirth, Six Word Memoir, and Eve Ensler's tribute to Anita Hill; adapted Hell is Other Parents for the stage; wrote several screenplays and a TV pilot that were never produced; watched Shutterbabe (the big and small-screen versions) languish in development hell; had another baby; lost appendix, father, Upper West Side home, bearings, socks, sanity, and several nouns; found Harlem, yoga, and occasional serenity. But not the socks. Or the whatchamacallit. Nouns.

Customer Reviews

I did not sympathize with the main character at all.
Krispie
I thought the book had too many plot lines that bogged the story down and found myself skimming through many parts that I just didn't care about.
Lindsey
I wish I could say that this book was better than I think it is.
Gabriela Perez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By KDMask VINE VOICE on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I very rarely read a book in one sitting but this book grabbed me and didn't let go. Elizabeth Burns starts to remember her friend's mysterious disappearance when they were children and it unleashes a torrent of memories within her herself and her hometown. The subject matter is true, but as the author says, the "why" is what is still left to fiction. A unflinching look at motherhood and those emotions that go with it are stripped bare and shown with terrifying reality. This book not only explores aspects of motherhood, it also provides a look back at "modern" medicine's myths regarding woman's health issues. It's horrifying to realize that April's mother was actually under a doctor's care when this act happened, and that so little was done to help her at the time. With references to Susan Smith and Andrea Yates, "Between Here and April" sweeps you into to the dark world of depression. I found Elizabeth's own story at times to be intrusive to the tale of April, but didn't put me off finishing. I found myself examining not only my feelings about motherhood but that of my mother and my grandmother. Simply captivating.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Monica J. Kern VINE VOICE on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel describes what happens as the protagonist, Elizabeth Burns, becomes fascinated with understanding the story behind the death years ago of her best friend from first grade, April. As the story progresses, we discover, bit by bit, the story of April's mother, Adelaide, that ultimately makes clear the desperation and hopelessness that can lead some women to commit the ultimate betrayal.

Kogan's first novel is well written and captivating. I stayed up far later than I should one night to finish it. However, there were certain aspects of the plot that prevented it from being a truly great novel. Elizabeth remembers WAY too many details of the conversation and setting of encounters she had back in first grade to be plausible. Interviews with people from Adelaide's past conveniently divulge realms of right-on- target information. A trip to Adelaide's psychiatrist produces written transcripts from a handful of therapy sessions that just happen to include, implausibly early in the therapeutic process, a group session including April, that just happens to yield all sorts of valuable insights. Finally, before Elizabeth even has the chance to visit Adelaide's widowed husband, he writes HER a letter asking her to drop her project--out of respect for his privacy--but which then goes on for several pages blabbing all sorts of intimate details about their marriage.

I am guessing that women will like this book much more than men, because there isn't a likable man in the entire novel. Elizabeth's husband is so awful (working until 11:00 pm literally just about every night, and neglecting Elizabeth completely unless it is to request kinky S&M sex) that he is almost a caricature.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. McQueen on September 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Between Here and April" is a very mediocre book. I will not read it again or recommend it to a friend. I did, however, not want to stop in the middle. The biggest problem is the total lack of character development. Only the main character is developed at all, but even she was fairly uninteresting. Another problem is that all the females in the story had severe emotional disturbances and all the males, except the one homosexual, were totally self absorbed jerks. On the upside, Kogan does a good job of showing the pressures that people face trying to keep a balance good balance between family and career. Also, incase someone is thinking of buying this book for a younger read, it should be noted that this book contains
--SPOILER, maybe--

bondage, a graphic rape scene, and a masturbation scene.
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Megan VINE VOICE on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A young mother finds herself having flashbacks of a childhood friend, April, who was murdered in a pre-cable-news case of maternal filicide. This repressed memory surfaces during a performance of (cue symbolism!) "Medea," natch (also wait for the descriptions of mother mice eating their young). Luckily, Elizabeth has a background in journalism (war correspondence, no less), so she begins to dig into the story with a vague idea towards turning it into a docudrama. Along the way, she begins to see disturbing similarities between Adele, her friend's mother, and her own life. When does understanding the motives for such a horrific crime cross the line into empathy?

Kogan connects the mother-daughter relationships between Adele's family and Elizabeth's, in some cases too well. They all started to blur together after a while, whether it's Adele and her mother, Elizabeth and hers, Adele and April, or Elizabeth and her daughters Tess and Daisy. The moms are all stressed, depressed, and repressed, to varying degrees, to the point that I had a hard time keeping track of which childhood trauma belonged to whom. Was it Adele who walked in on her mother's suicide attempt, or Elizabeth? Was it April whose mom forgot cupcakes for her birthday, or Tess? If you believe Kogan, every mother out there is one broken dish, one missed flight home, one late period away from a complete breakdown. Postpartum depression in her world is as common as hangnails.

And the men fare even worse. They're absent fathers and indifferent husbands, workaholics, cheaters, rapists, womanizers, wife beaters, and they probably leave their dirty socks on the floor, too. One husband even dares to want non-vanilla sex with his wife! The sick b*st*rd. Again, the male characters are in large part interchangeable.
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