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The Distance Between Us Hardcover – August 26, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; First Edition edition (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758226969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758226969
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,880,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the absorbing latest from Yates (Leave Myself Behind), an Illinois piano teacher whose virtuoso career ended prematurely attempts to reconnect with her family after years of anguish and loss. Quirky, intimidating septuagenarian Hester Parker tells her story in retrospect. Early in her marriage, she derives pleasure from the music of her violinist husband, Arthur Donovan, and her two sons, Jeremy and Paul, both accomplished musicians. But despite an outstanding intellect, daughter Caitlin fails to inherit the family genius and suffers the plight of the outsider. A tragedy proves to have more consequences than meet the eye, and Hester's marriage dissolves, leaving her alone in her imposing Victorian home. Cut to the present, when quiet college student Alex rents her upstairs apartment, the two develop an attachment that helps both come to terms with their plights, yet threatens what Hester holds most dear. Yates's family melodrama brims with quiet intensity. (Sept.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."

More About the Author

I was born in 1962, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 1969 my family---my parents, two older brothers, and me---moved to Lamoni, Iowa, where my father was the Dean of Students at Graceland College and my mother taught business courses, also at Graceland. I graduated from Lamoni High School in 1981, Drake University in 1985 (with a Bachelor of Music degree in Clarinet Performance), and Boston University in 1988 (with a Master of Music degree in Woodwind Performance).

Following a brief, bizarrely inappropriate stint as bursar at The Boston Conservatory, I began teaching private music lessons in Massachusetts in 1989, and then moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1999. A novel-writing class taught by Gordon Mennenga at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival was the catalyst for my first novel (Leave Myself Behind), which was published in 2003 by Kensington Books, and won an Alex Award from the American Library Association in 2004. My second novel, The Brothers Bishop, was published in 2006, and my third, The Distance Between Us, in 2009. My latest novel, The Third Hill North Of Town, came out in February of this year, under the pen name of Noah Bly.

I still teach clarinet, saxophone, and bass guitar lessons in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, and have also taught writing workshops at the University of Iowa's Summer Writing Festival. When I'm not writing or teaching, I usually can be found with a book in one hand and a glass of wine---or a cup of coffee---in the other.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant storytelling and witty insights and dialogue that make this a real page-turner.
Amy Flugel
I read this book slowly, most of the time, a chapter or two at a time, until the last hundred or so pages, which I read today.
I am a musician so this book really struck home for me, but anybody can find something to relate to here.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Drew D. Ferguson on October 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, I get all the haters who are pissed that Bart didn't "deliver" another over-the-top gay book. You're right. No arguments. What we get instead is an author stretching his wings. Sure, the content is different... sure it's not stereotypical or predictable... but, for crissakes, this is Yates we're talking about. He's never given his readers an easy book, mostly 'cuz he knows you're all smarter than that. Yeah, TDBWU is a different direction, a different story, but ultimately, it's all Yates. And Lord, the man can still rock a story.
This is a guy stretching his wings, don't clip them. Read this book. The writing is top notch, the characters--despite their awful and too human tendencies--are real. Yates doesn't sugarcoat, but we're a a better reading public for it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alex, a shy, gay college student, answered an ad for an apartment to rent in a stately old house near school in the small river town of Bolton, Illinois. Alex thinks his potential landlady, frail-looking but feisty 70-something Hester Donovan, a former concert pianist now separated from her violinist husband, estranged from her two living adult children, and living alone in that big three story house, is a bit of a hoot, with her sarcastic, dry sense of humor and habit of saying exactly what is on her mind. He decides to take the apartment, and the two of them gradually become familiar with each others' past life, although both have secrets they don't wish the other to know, quite yet. He learns that one of her sons committed suicide, and that her other children, Caitlan (who happens to be his writing professor at the college) and Paul (a musician, like his parents), somehow blame her for the death. Meanwhile, her husband Arthur, who left her for a younger woman with whom they had both worked at the music school adjacent to the college, is threatening to take the house away from her. Her son, Paul, seems to have a particular problem with Alex living there, as evidenced by the scene he made when he came to the house in an alcoholic rage, demanding that Hester evict him.

In his previous works, "Leave Myself Behind" and "The Brothers Bishop," Yates has established himself as a master of telling a story carried by unique but realistic, strong characters, and that is even more evident in this totally engrossing novel about how stunted communication and petty jealousies can turn a loving family into a highly dysfunctional one.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Raisen VINE VOICE on February 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Any classical music lover should find pure enjoyment in this book. I found Yates to be exquisitely talented at creating a sense of character, place, time -- this book reaches so many senses. 'The Distance Between Us' offers every emotion ranging from funny/witty [Hester's acerbic tongue is a 'stand alone performance!'], poignant, moments of outright sobbing, wisdom, insight -- you name it, it's here! I found several parts especially touching. When Hester fully realizes & expresses the depth of her feelings towards Arthur, I was was so moved that I kept reading these passages over & over. Fragile Jeremy steals the heart. Then, of course, there is this glorious music pulsating from almost every page. [What a quartet/quintet these characters are!!] I could picture, as well as hear Hester at her piano, Arthur playing the violin, Paul on the cello, etc. Then, there is, what I refer to as, the 'joy in life' moment -- I trust that any 'baby-boomer plus' will totally relate to this. I must admit that the Boccherini/Manilow connection, this had me reeling, 'hooked' me! Yes, indeed, gratitude, humility, forgiveness & more -- are a must! Pity Caitlin, at least, for the time being... Moms & Dads out there should heed some advice on the potential damage we may [hopefully, not] inflict. Beware of your expectations! Highly recommended reading.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kjell N. Stava on October 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I loved Yates' first book, "Leave Myself Behind". I love this book just as much, if not more. It's mostly about the realization and acceptance that some broken relationships cannot be mended, even in a family that truly loved each other once. Some parts are truly heartbreaking, but Yates has a talent for making the reader laugh through some of the hardest parts. I was laughing and crying at the same time, it was pretty neat. Some reviewers have commented that this isn't a gay novel, but who cares? As a gay reader, I'm thrilled that Yates is reaching out to a wider audience, because everyone needs to read some Yates. Eagerly awaiting his next novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan H. Berke on October 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book, and as a warning, I should start off by saying that the first person narative is a bit off-putting at first. However, once you get into the book, it is hard to put down. I started it several hours ago, and just finished it now. In between I cried more times than I can recall (granted, I have been prone to crying lately, but I cannot imagine reading this book without falling pray to such emotions). Read this book with caution, it tugs at many emotions you didn't know you were grappling with at the time, but read it. It is well worth the investment.
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