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My Only Story Paperback – May 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Ballantine Books Edition edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345442938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345442932
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In between fighting the gentrification of her Massachusetts hometown and cutting hair at her salon, feisty Rita, a thirtysomething divorc e, finds stray people to help. Extraordinarily sensitive to troubled souls, Rita has no problem recognizing John Reed's neediness when she spots him at a zoning hearing. Once she hears his sad "only story," she won't stop until she reunites him with his orphaned eight-year-old niece, kept away from him for years by in-laws after a devastating family tragedy. As she brings John closer to his heart's desire, Rita finds their growing love making her believe again in her own dreams for happiness. Then, the unexpected intervenes, with outcomes seemingly both preordained and unimaginable. At once bittersweet, funny, and moving, this finely written romantic novel is well suited for a summer afternoon's read. Recommended for most fiction collections.DStarr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A lost, crippled dog appears to Rita, an unconventional hair stylist, in a dream, and she is determined to find and help that lonely soul. He soon appears in the form of John Reed, an unassuming, dejected thirtysomething hovering at the back of an Alanon meeting. As their friendship blossoms into romance, John reveals that his brother brutally murdered his wife and then killed himself, leaving their three-year-old daughter, Aileen, orphaned. Aileen was, and still is, very precious to John, but the three maternal aunts who became her legal guardians will have nothing to do with him because he so closely resembles his homicidal brother. Assertive and persistent, Rita helps John win over his aunts, but as their acceptance of John grows, so does a chasm between John and Rita. Meanwhile, Rita's sister comes to stay with her after being ousted from a cult in California, and strong-willed and headstrong Rita realizes that John was never the lost, little dog after all. A compelling and unusual tale that combines humor with tragedy, heartbreak with promise. Deborah Rysso
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

When you've finished this compelling novel your mind won't stop there, but continues the story.
Nancy Taylor
The author deftly and lovingly introduces a series of characters whose lonely lives reflect fractured families and frustrated dreams.
Bruce J. Wasser
How each of them relate their "only story" and help each other find their way is a story you will not want to end.
BeachReader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Either people shrink with age, or short people live longer," I heard myself say the other day. Where had I heard that? Then I remembered: from Rita Rosario. The main character in Monica Wood's newest novel, Rita is a hairdresser who collects various people's hair snippets, and stores them in a glass jar, creating "a mix of love and betrayals and partings and death." This could also be said of My Only Story -- it's a mixture of love and partings and betrayals, but it is also a romance, a mystery, and a novel about coming to terms with past, making peace with the present, and forgiving and staying connected to the people. And it's a book about Rita, whom I cannot get out of my head. That's the problem with Wood's characters; I couldn't ditch Faith and Connie-- from Wood's other novel, Secret Language-either. Rita's a hairdresser; her shop looks like the sort of place people's mothers "used to take them for their grade-school haircuts." She, however, is no stereotypical Marge of Marge's Clip-n-Curl. Nor does she like it when people try to pigeonhole her based on either her job or appearance-- flashy nails and flouncy dresses. She's read Canterbury Tales, for example. She's also a healer, a Tarot card reader, and a fixer: "People come to me after the fact.... Fix what's broken, that's what I do all day long." Throughout the novel, Rita struggles to fix what is broken and to make the connection between what she thought her life was and what it actually is. Even thought I couldn't put the book down, I'm loathe to recommend this book to other readers. I want to keep Rita for myself. However, My Only Story is the kind of book worth sharing, which is why I'm recommending it to everyone I know.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Box2er on August 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
It's time for Monica Wood to become a star. My Only Story is a beautiful tale of compassion, generosity and hope like no other story that has been told. The plot opens with Rita, a small town hair dresser, who dreams of an injured dog. This dream takes the form of John, a deeply wounded man struggling to connect with his life, the man that Rita believes she is meant to heal. We soon become enamored with Rita, and as she hopes to direct John's grief into happiness, we learn of Rita's own troubles and her steadfast optimism through all she encounters.
What I loved about this book was the decency of it and its characters. The people are real. They love, they fear, they hope. It's a story free of flash and drama - a real story, an honest story. It is one you will not want to put down and one that you will want everyone to read.
Note to Monica: Please don't keep us waiting. You are one of the best kept secrets of the literary world.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
MY ONLY STORY is a gem of a book. Like all good literature it's about rising from the ashes. Some of us do it more readily, some more gracefully, but mostly we all do it because we must. Lifelines are found in the most unexpected moments and sources. Author, Monica Wood, has mastered the element of the unexpected and created a mesmerizing story.
Rita is the lovable, gaudily bespangled, unconventional hairdresser who narrates the story. She calls herself "a healer." She "fixes things": broken hair, broken hopes, broken lives. Her passion to heal the world generates the story.
MY ONLY STORY is many stories. John Reed has suffered inscrutable loss and walks "with his hands knuckled into his pockets, clutching the lining lest someone fleet by and make off with his clothes." A beguiling eight-year-old child, the darling of the family and the niece that John wants to bring back into his life, carries her own secrets. The formidable and loving Doherty sisters with their husbands and bevy of children, "that man-eating creature of a family" Rita calls them, have ostracized John because of his brother's unforgivable crime. The story is very much about those inextricable ties that bind families, from the most dysfunctional to the most visibly united.
Never simplistic or sentimental, the story is an affirmation that each of us has a story to tell. Unusual twists and turns replete with humor, radiantly precise language, and engaging characters make MY ONLY STORY a most satisfying and engaging novel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By doctor_beth #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The main character of this book, Rita, has experienced many losses in her 30-something years: the loss of her beloved grandmother to cancer, the loss of her infuriating older sister to a cummune, the loss of her childhood home and the town where she grew up, and finally, the loss of her marriage and related hopes for a child. Despite all this, she sees herself as a healer, and when she meets John, a lost soul, she sets out to save him. John tells Rita his "only story," his own tale of love and loss. Rita sets out on a mission to give John his life back, but somewhere along the way, she discovers that she is trying to save herself as well. Eventually, Rita makes the decision to sacrifice her own dreams in order to grant the wish of the enchanting little girl who holds the key to John's salvation.
Wood's book is beautifully written, even haunting at times; Rita's yearnings will stir up your own emotions, moving you to both anger and tears. The story is rich with originality, and the ending provides a conclusion that is both happy and sad. The one thing that prevented me from giving the book 5 stars was the transformation of Rita's character. When we first meet her, Rita is portrayed as a quirky, strong survivor type with a good head on her shoulders; there is something clearly mystical about her as well. Over the course of the story, however, Rita starts to become needy, selfish, and even a bit unhinged. Of course, this metamorphosis is partly in service of the plot, and by the end of the book, Rita is her old self again; I just found the changes to be a bit too much out-of character. However, this a minor flaw, and it does not detract from the fact that My Only Story is a rich, rewarding read.
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