From Publishers Weekly
Two women a generation apart meet and work to overcome their hurt in this flawed but sympathetic first novel from Addonizio, a poet (Tell Me
) and short story writer (In the Box Called Pleasure
). In L.A.'s Long Beach, 34-year-old Diana McBride is working her latest dead-end job, at the children's store Teddy's World, when very young mother-to-be Jamie Ramirez comes in and buys a bear, but ends up burying it at the beach, along with her frustrations at impending kicked-out-of-the-house single motherhood. Addonizio alternates perspectives chapter-by-chapter, switching from Diana to Jamie to Jamie's unborn child, Stella ("I chose you, Stella tells her. I'm not going to let you just hand me over to somebody else"). The awkward results feel like a first-time novelist's cop-out on multiple characters. Addonizio has a great ear for what the OCD-afflicted Diana and the deluded, late-adolescent Jamie say to themselves, but the means by which Jamie ends up at Diana's apartment, along with Great Guy Anthony who has come to Jamie's roadside aid, feel contrived. After some trouble, strife and a serious scare with newborn Stella, things work out with a heartwarming complexity, but Addonizio hasn't fashioned a strong enough container for her characters' powerful feelings.
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Addonizio writes with sultry candor about womanhood under duress in her celebrated poetry, collected most recently in What Is This Thing Called Love?
(2004). She now extends her provocative inquiry with verve and creative license in her first novel. Diana loves her job at a Long Beach baby store, but she is beginning to detect the contamination that haunts her. A former child pageant star pushed mercilessly by her man-crazy, alcoholic mother, Diana is a compulsive washer. Her obsessive behavior has driven away her husband, and she can't imagine how she can possibly give shelter to Jamie, a 17-year-old unwed mother, and her newborn, Stella, who desperately need a place to stay because Jamie's mother insists that she give Stella up for adoption. Addonizio writes with mesmerizing realism about Diana's efforts to conquer her neurosis and Jaime's conflicted motherhood, then turns to tongue-in-cheek fantasy to convey Stella's predicament as an old soul trapped in an infant's helpless body. The result is a funny, insightful, and diverting tale of high anxiety, rocky mother-daughter relationships, and the tyranny of the body. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved