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Leaving Eden (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – April 29, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345445759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345445759
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,293,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dreams of Hollywood fame descend on the denizens of even the smallest of small towns, and Eden, Va., is no exception. When 16-year-old Tallie Brock spots a poster advertising a $20 makeover and photo session-Glamour Day, the offer is dubbed-she is convinced it's her ticket to movie stardom. Hollywood dreaming runs in the family. Tallie's mother, Dinah Mae, a dead ringer for Natalie Wood, even named her daughter after Wood. When Tallie was 12, Dinah Mae spent six months in Los Angeles, hoping to land a role as Natalie in a television biopic. Upon her return, Tallie was eager for news of what Dinah Mae had been doing, but had to resort to eavesdropping when her mother would confide only in her best friend, Martha Lee. Ever since Dinah Mae got back, she hasn't been herself and Tallie is afraid that she'll lose her mother again. To keep worry at bay, she writes in her journal, moons over handsome, rich Spaulding Reynolds, worries about her mill-worker father's drinking and dreams of fleeing tiny Eden. What follows is a journey marked by both pain and pleasure. LeClaire's pacing is uneven, her major revelations are awkwardly timed and the tragic incident that triggers the denouement is stagily introduced. Still, Tallie is an endearing character, and the Southern banter of the ladies at the beauty parlor where she works is pitch-perfect. Despite bumps in the delivery, LeClaire's (Entering Normal) homey storytelling goes down easy.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Adrift in Eden, Amherst County, Virginia, high-school senior Tallie Burke tries to resurrect her mother, Deanie, by recollection and imagination. Mama left her not once, but twice. First, she made an ill-conceived stab at Hollywood stardom; then, after returning from Tinseltown less than a year later, she died of advanced cancer in just a few months. By 1992, Tallie has been motherless four years. She contends with a brokenhearted dad who drinks; thus she leads a lifestyle a half-step above trailer trash, and she lusts for wellborn "Spy" Reynolds. No wonder Tallie yearns for the end of senior year, so she can fly to Hollywood and fulfill her mother's dream. But Tallie, though more than ready to escape once she tips for the local Klip-N-Kurl's Glamour Day promotion--a complete makeover with 9-by-12 glossies for only $20--and buys her ticket, allows her desperation to make her betray longtime bonds. Saturated with death and loss yet bursting with life, a beautiful, reflective meditation on friendship in its many guises. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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40%
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A good read, but keep the tissues handy.
Virginia Lore
Tallie ultimately will come to grips with one of life's greatest dilemmas, a choice between regret and remorse.
Bruce J. Wasser
This is a good beach read for a hot summer afternoon.
Tonya Speelman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Beverly J. Scott on March 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Leclaire's coming of age narrative, "Leaving Eden" is more about growing up and finding out that your dreams of leaving lead you instead back home. Tallie Brock struggles with growing up without her mother's counsel, never noticing how many people care about her. While following a dream she thought was her own, Tallie uncovers secrets that lead to her own growth, to an understanding about family love and loyality and in the end, the path to her place in this world. Leclaire's insight into the emotions of growing up will put "Leaving Eden" on the best seller list.
Beverly J Scott author of RIGHTEOUS REVENGE...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bruce J. Wasser on July 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
What does it mean to make wise choices in life? How is it possible for a sensitive teen-ager to comprehend the significance of a mother's love when its source is no longer present? How much should one risk for dreams, desires and hopes? What is it about wanting that makes it so consuming, so overpowering? Anne LeClaire's sensitive, lyrical and evocative coming-of-age novel, "Leaving Eden," provides stunning, instructive answers. Her protagonist, sixteen year-old Tallie Brock does not consider her hometown of suggestively-named Eden, Virginia to be paradise; nor does she realize that the knowledge she so earnestly seeks about life could compel her to an act of self-banishment.
What Talie does know is heartbreak and abandonment. Not once, but twice, does her mother leave her. Blessed with Natalie Wood-like looks, Dinah Mae Brock wrestles with her own need to live out her dreams. After Dinah Mae abruptly leaves her diligent, devoted husband Luddy for the hopes of realizing her life-long ambition of becoming a Hollywood stgar, her bright, inquisitive but disaffected daughter must confront her own demons and ask herself questions she is not initially prepared to confront.
Without the comfort and security of her mother, Tallie lacks "context" for her life and yearns to see the "whole picture" instead of the "jangly bits and pieces that didn't seem to fit." Insecure with her own physical appearance, a social outsider whose anxieties are exacerbated by an intolerably smug and critical maternal grandmother, Tallie has yet to discover that "things don't always have to be laid out straight as string to make sense." Trying to make sense of his own loneliness, Luddy takes to drink to obliterate pain.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "creolegee" on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is so funny, it is laugh out loud funny. Do not miss this book. It reminds me of Fannie Flagg. Good story line, good characters, a perfect book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Lore on October 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tallie Brock is the kind of character you don't forget. Sixteen, hardworking, and alert to the wisdom of the women around her, Tallie has an interior life that stands in sharp relief to the hot, dusty Eden roads she bikes, the trailer home she keeps clean, and the Klip'N'Kurl where she sweeps up hair. Though the novel is set in 1992, flashbacks to events in 1988 provide insight into Tallie's drive to escape Eden and discover her mother's secrets.
Anne D. Leclaire writes beautifully, capturing both Tallie's naivety and her resolve. At the end of each chapter is a page from Tallie's Book, a notebook with bits of advice in it like: people are full of surprises, and women with fat faces shouldn't wear bangs. Though the idiomatic language provides some humor, parts of the story are sad, and quite painful to read. Leclaire creates other unforgettable women in this book: Martha Lee, Mama's best friend whose face is ugly enough to stop a truck; Raylene, who teaches Tallie about generosity of spirit; Lenora, who can read the future in your shampoo suds. The men in this book are not as memorable. There's the quietly drunken father, the popular guy Tallie likes, and the not-so-popular guy who likes her. Though they are needed for plot, the men here fade next to the vivid world of the town's women. The only other flaw in the book is that the ending is not very well grounded in the rest of the story. Leclaire's prose is strong enough that she can still carry it off.
As the story progresses, items in the notebook change gradually from other people's truisms to Tallie's own truths ("It is a mighty and terrible possibility that a person can do great harm without the least intention"). How she comes to learn these truths makes an absorbing story. A good read, but keep the tissues handy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Mitchell on September 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Leaving Eden is a cute & charming coming of age story about Tallie Brock, daughter of a Natalie Wood look-a-like. During this summer in Eden, Virginia Tallie's mother returns from a stint in LA, looking for stardom, and Tallie is keeping her fingers crossed that her mom is now home for good. Alternating between the present, to past flashbacks, LeClaire begins painting a picture of Tallie's life, as she goes through the joys and pitfalls of being a teenage girl. To make extra cash, Tallie is employed at the local salon, the Klip & Kurl where the buzz of the local community women keep her in the know of all the lastest goings on. The highlight of her summer and quest for her summer savings is getting a Glamour photo makeover-Tallie and the salon women can't wait to transform themselves. As we discover, deep in the hearts of these different women, is the common bond to look and feel as glamorous as a celebrity.
Tallie's journey includes feelings of isolation as an outsider from the "popular" group, finding true love, and uncovering some painful and surprising secrets. LeClaire's writing and story are both humorous and touching.
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