From Publishers Weekly
Minot's graceful, candid novel about the meaning of adulthood and the depth of family attachment follows the three siblings of the titular clan as they face the consequences of their life choices. Margaret is an ambivalent mother of three who relinquished her autonomy and former identity as a hip New Yorker for a suburban life of carpools; Max, a new father, quit his job as an independent film producer but hides the truth from his wife by pretending to go to work every day; depressed, lonely 20-something Edie struggles with singlehood and a newly acquired eating disorder. Now, they must cope with their widowed father, Arthur, who moves into Margaret's home to suffer through the final stages of cancer. There is also the matter of a long-held family secret, revealed, of course, when they least expect it. Minot (Susan's sister and author of The Tiny One
) has a refreshing, contemporary voice, and even the most mundane moments—Edie talking to herself in the car, Margaret's daughter dancing on the lawn—contain surprising swells of emotion. As it turns out, the revealed secret is melodramatic and far-fetched, but this novel excels all the same, buoyed up by its quiet conflicts and small, gorgeous glimpses at truth.
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Minot's elegant second novel follows three siblings as they cope with their father's impending death from cancer, not long after their mother was killed in an airplane accident. The siblings' main preoccupations, though, are more individual. Margaret, a harried mother of three, has difficulty accepting that her children are growing up. Max can't bring himself to tell his wife that he quit his job in a moment of frustration, and he resents the burden that she and their baby son represent. The youngest, Edie, has fewer responsibilities, but is the most adrift, deeply lonely and plagued by an eating disorder. These quotidian problems sometimes seem overwrought, and the book's end brings an unnecessary plot twist, but the precision of Minot's descriptions succeeds in making her characters seem real and sympathetic.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker
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