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Send Me Paperback – January 31, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ryan's debut novel, suffused with an earnestness that might seem cloying were it not for his ease and control, follows Teresa Kerrigan as she struggles to raise four children, two from each of her two failed marriages. The novel covers 30 years from the mid-1960s. By the '70s, the family is in northeast Florida, with NASA launches nearby, and youngest son Frankie can't shake his boyhood obsession with spaceships and science fiction. As an adolescent Frankie happily embraces his belief that he is gay, dreaming wistfully of Luke Skywalker. Next oldest Joe, who narrates some chapters, has a more painful time sorting through his own messy sexuality, while the eldest, Matt, leaves the household at 18 to care for his sick father, and Karen, a high school dropout, marries at 21 and withdraws emotionally from her mother—as each child does in his or her own way. Ryan gets the dreariness and tumult of the Kerrigan lives right, presenting Teresa as flawed but sympathetic, and her brood as reactive in familiar but nicely specified ways. All are compassionately drawn through Joe's articulate bewilderment, particularly the sensitive and surprising Frankie, who comes to dominate Joe's own self-exploration. When AIDS eventually figures into the plot, Ryan maintains this impressive debut's nuance and sweetness to the end. (Feb. 7)
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From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Teresa Kerrigan never envisioned herself as a twice-divorced mother of four. Somehow, life has conspired against all of her dreams and she is left trying to raise her children in 1970s Florida, surrounded by the Nixon scandals, Apollo launches, and streets of identical ranch houses. Ryan skillfully weaves Teresa's story with those of her children as they try to make it to adulthood intact. Matt, the eldest, barely remembers his father but impulsively goes to live with him at 18. Karen, the only daughter, uses rebellion as a buffer against the dysfunction that permeates the household and openly flouts parental authority. Joe struggles mightily to be the normal and good son, but cannot escape feelings of shame and inadequacy over his homosexuality. And Frankie, the youngest, cloaks himself with myriad eccentricities and uses them as a magnet to draw others into his circle. On the outer perimeter, readers glimpse two ex-husbands and the ways that they ebb and flow in their children's lives. In weaving together the strands that make up the stories of one family over four decades, Ryan does not attempt to tie up loose ends or heal all of the resentments that have built up. But he does paint a powerful picture of dysfunction intertwined with humor, love, and hope. Teens will find much to relate to and may even walk away with a deeper appreciation of the quirkiness of their own families.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (January 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385338740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385338745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,558,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Last year I read Michael Cunningham's 1995 family saga "Flesh and Blood," and was blown away by it. Little did I expect to come across a book every bit its equal so soon. Author Patrick Ryan, in a brilliant debut, has thoroughly and lovingly drawn each of his characters in a style both bold and original. Not a story collection or a novel, but rather a series of interralated vignettes, "Send Me" is an engrossing and audacious portrait of an American family.

Teresa is the matriarch of a family that consists of Matt and Katherine (her children by Dermot), and Joe and Frankie (her sons by Roy). Both men abandon Teresa and their children while remaining important characters within the continuing narratives. With dysfunction their unifying characteristic, the broken family scatters to various cities across America.

Gay inclusive, with chapters set in and around the FSU campus, Ryan beautifully illustrates a myriad of complex family dynamics and desperate personalities. The interactions between his characters seem drawn from real life, with each scene complete with its own drama and epiphany. I especially liked the chapters dealing with Frankie and Joe. These two younger brothers share a special bond that is well communicated. Theirs is the story that takes place in Tallahassee. Frankie is a genuinely special young man, eccentric, open and extreme. The final story is a gem, the final paragraphs heartrending in their purity.

The author's obvious affection for his characters, his appreciation for the absurd and his use of levity have resulted in a masterpiece of conception and execution. I can't recommend this enough.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on July 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To call this a novel is not really accurate, as it is more a collection of short stories about the members of a uniquely dysfunctional family from a suburban island in Florida. The central focus is on Teresa, the matriarch of the family who tries to hold everything together, with varying results. Her first husband, Dermot, was essentially running away from his powerful Italian-American family in upstate NY, and eventually went back to them, after the birth of Teresa's oldest children, Matt and Katherine. She then was courted and wed by Roger, who worked at the nearby NASA space center, and who became the father of Teresa's other children, Joseph and Frankie, before he leaves her for another woman.

Each chapters focus primarily on one character at a time, be it one of Teresa's two husbands or one of the children, as they grew into teenagers and adulthood. Most colorful of the latter is Frankie, a dreamer obsessed with space travel and aliens as a child, who becomes a gay party boy when attending a Florida university. His older brother Joseph is an introspective, serious boy, outwardly disapproving of Frankie's antics, but secretly envying his "I Am What I Am" bravado as he copes with his own confusion about his sexual orientation. Katherine, who ditches her name earlier and insists on being called Karen, is a teenage rebel who marries at 21, looking for the love she feels she didn't get at home. Oldest son Matt was most affected by the departure of his birth father, and moves to NY at age 18 to become his caretaker.

Although brilliantly conceived and written, the book is not that easy to follow, as the chapters don't follow logically from each other,but rather arranged in the order in which the author wanted to tell the story.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joe the Lion on January 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I truly enjoyed this book.

Patrick Ryan uses a family as his cast, which allows him to focus on specific characters for different sections of the work. The result resembles a collection of short stories that often seem unrelated-- though they share common characters. Each chapter chooses different people to focus on, and jumps forward and back in time. In the end, the varying stories all help to illuminate the history of a remarkable family.

In particular, I felt that the chapter entitled "That Daring Young Man," was quite masterful. Not only does Ryan address the complex relationship between two brothers (one who is gay, the other also gay but closeted), but really gets at the desperation and frustration of discovering one's own sexuality. It was unlike any gay "coming-of-age" story I'd ever read-- truly unique.

A unique and thoughtful read. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Don on April 18, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ryan gets right at the heart of a painful truth: families fly apart. And by jumping back and forth in time to tell the story, the starkness of this reality is all the more clear. And what an amazing eye for detail. He's the only person other than my grandmother who would ever describe a mouthy teenage girl as "bold." When I read that, and later when I read his accurate description of a Slip n Slide, I was transported back in time. Great work.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
Patrick Ryan has made some bold stylistic choices in composing his first published book and to great effect. It's not a novel, but it is composed of multiple stories which all involve members of the same family. Most focus on a single character. Only three show the entire family together. So you come to know this family very intimately both as individuals and as a group which is something most traditional novels are unable to do when trying to balance diverse members of a single family. Send Me spans from the mid-60s to the near future, but each self-contained story is not arranged chronologically. Instead you hopscotch through time with this family joining them at different points in their lives which are often sadly disconnected from one another. This has the effect of juxtaposing the emotional peaks and valleys of their lives to provide greater insight into each of the characters than if you were to read about their lives from start to finish.

Here we have the wronged mother, the straying father, the rebellious daughter, the precocious boy, and the son with AIDS. All are familiar and recognizable, but none fall into stereotypes. Their life stories are fresh, compelling and unmistakeably their own. Ryan's great ability as a writer is to show real sympathy and respect for each of his complex characters. Some make very questionable choices, but the writer shows through crucial events in their lives how they came to make these decisions. These stories show that the real tragedy is not what they do, but what they fail to do. It's in their vulnerability, their tendency to neglect the family that they should try to form a tighter bond with, that their stories acquire a universal meaning. The way in which the writer chooses to tell only fragments of their stories in a carefully structured form yields many surprises making Send Me an utterly compulsive read. This eloquent, moving, fantastic puzzle of a book is the debut of a brilliant writer.
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