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Family Resemblances Hardcover – March 12, 1986

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sent away by her parents so that she can recover from boyfriend problems and they can sort out their shaken marriage, 15-year-old Karen is spending a hot summer vacation in New Franklin, Ill.a small "Midwestern town bisected by the B & O tracks"where her chic schoolteacher aunt Augusta, 35, lives alone in the tall brick ancestral manse. Karen and Augusta talk with laconic awkwardness about love and growing up; Augusta busily hammers away on a garden gazebo that eventually collapses. Furnace repairman Jerry, one of Augusta's many lovers, comes to help and brings along a new beau for Karen, a youth named George. But Karen's edgy self-consciousness is hard to believe: she is embarrassed, for instance, to be seen buying Seventeen magazine. Pei's notion of kid talk is bland and cliche-ridden. Unfortunately, the action trudges on with drowsy slowness.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA Karen Moss, at odds with her parents and brooding over the loss of a boyfriend, spends her fifteenth summer in a small Illinois town with her 35-year-old Aunt Augusta, an eccentric English teacher, compulsive baseball fan, nonstop talker, and the loving caretaker of the family's deteriorating Victorian home. The two women spend the sultry summer engaged in various home improvement projects, driving lessons, baseball games, and endless conversations in which Karen is appalled and awed by tales of her Aunt's love affairs. Karen meets George, who is bright, talented, and lonely. He becomes Karen's summer romance and the focus of much of her preoccupation with love and sex. Although the setting for the novel is the 1950s, Karen's struggle to understand her loving (if less than perfect) parents, her unconventional aunt, her sensitive and troubled boyfriend, and her own unpredictable emotions is a process toward self knowledge that today's readers will understand. Family Resemblances is not as subtle nor as profound as The Finishing School (Viking, 1985), which deals with a similar theme, but most young adults will find it more accessible than Godwin's book. Jackie Gropman, Fairfax County Public Library, Va.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (March 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394551842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394551845
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,110,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book will appeal to girls between the ages of around 12 and 15. It has the experiences of a girl who feels unwanted. For the younger readers, it will have a few squeamish bits for you. Overall this book is great. It has the teen girl, the love interest and the stories of her Aunt Augusta.
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Format: Paperback
There are far better coming-of-age novels, and I almost gave up on this book after about 100 pages or so. But I went back to it, and was very glad I did. On page 147, the character of George was introduced, and gave the book some much needed life. If I could have communicated with the author I would have advised him to tell the story from this character's perspective; I like to imagine that this character might be Pei's alter ego, but of course have no way of knowing that. I'm glad I stuck with the book because I got to "meet" George; I liked the sweet, sensitive, smart George so much I even went running to check out his favorite book, Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men." If you just read the book from the page where George is introduced all the way to the end, you wouldn't be missing much, unless you like endless descriptions of household chores, errands, and especially, home repair.
Without George, I would have rated this book two stars. I'd like Pei to write another novel, and bring back George, this time as the protagonist.
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By A Customer on October 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Difficult to see how this could rate lower than five stars, or to understand the one reviewer's remarks about George relative to the rest of the novel. Funny, too, that this is seen as a teen novel by some. Yes, it would be good for teens. But I have passed it around for years, particularly to women who grew up in the midwest during the period. All agree that it is right on the money with characterization, setting, etc. Bottom line: It's a wonderfully written and realized story, and one wonders why Pei has not published more. He is a sensitive, lucid, and evocative stylist with a wry, warm, expansive vision of humanity. Do what you can to get your hands on a copy--or copies--and pass them around.
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