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Anyplace I hang My Hat Hardcover – October 5, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
A political reporter in her late 20s goes in search of the mother who abandoned her when she was a baby in this jaunty if rather jerky 10th novel by Isaacs (Long Time No See; Red, White, and Blue; etc.). Amy Lincoln was brought up in the projects by her Grandma Lil, a leg waxer and devoted Falcon Crest viewer; her amiable father, Chicky, spent most of Amy's childhood in prison on a series of minor theft raps. A boarding school scholarship rescues Amy from lower-class oblivion; she goes on to Harvard and Columbia, then lands a job at In Depth, a highbrow weekly. Upbeat and self-deprecating, Amy spends little time bemoaning her past, but an encounter with college student Freddy Carrasco, who claims he's the illegitimate son of a Democratic presidential candidate, gets Amy wondering where her own mother might be. While advising Freddy how to approach his father, she uses her reporting skills to track down her elusive mother. The political subplot is anticlimactic—Amy doesn't even get a scoop—and Amy's eventual reunion with her mother, revealed to be a chilly suburban housewife, is credibly if rather disappointingly subdued. The parade of lavishly and loopishly described secondary characters and gossipy New York scene-setting give the novel its zing; Amy's rocky relationship with her documentary filmmaker boyfriend provides a jolt of romantic excitement and a happy ending.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Isaacs first started writing books in the mid-1970s. Three decades later, shes published her 10th novel, Any Place I Hang My Hat, a Cinderella story with a TV-movie-of-the-week feel. Isaacss heroine, Amy Lincoln, suffers from abandonment and trust issues. Shes worked her way out of poverty and up the journalistic ladder, but she cant quite get past the yearning to locate her long-lost mother and maternal grandparents. Most critics feel Isaacs has penned a heart-warming, if overly predictable, tale of self-realization and empowerment, but a few declared the journey to be more productive than the end result.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
a lot of rules. She wrote about the suburban mom vs. working woman in a manner that poked fun at both. She let her heroine have an adulterous fling, and, somehow, it seemed
all right in a day and age when the sexual revolution was just something hippies were involved in. Over the years, in nine novels (ten, now!) Isaacs has given me much pleasure and literally has me stop and say more than once throughout each book-"that's happened to me...". My personal favorite of Isaac's novels is "After All These Years", but, then, I never met an Isaacs novel I didn't love.
I credit Susan Isaacs with starting the "chick lit" era, and she is a master. Her novels don't just make light of women facing issues, they generally are themed for a woman who is just discovering a whole lot about herself that she never knew. "Any Place I Hang My Hat" is no exception, although the heroine, Amy Lincoln (a 30-something Jewish-Italian New Yorker from the slums, with a missing mother who walked off and left her and a father ("Chicky") who has lived a life incarcerated, on and off)doesn't realize right away that she's destined to try to find her true self.
Naturally, Amy's used her wits and her knack for hard work and fitting in to go first to an exclusive boarding school, all expenses paid, then on to Harvard and Columbia to study journalism. She's a political writer for "In Depth" - a quality magazine with an educated following, and she's been involved for more than two years with a documentary
filmmaker, John Orenstein. She's got a longer relationship, for a decade and a half, with rich, exotic Tatty, her best
friend. The two met in boarding school when Tatty insulted her and Amy retaliated by punching her in the mouth. Tatty naturally does not have to work for a living, but chose a career in gourmet occasion cake making, after her two marriages failed. Isaacs normally draws me in with a more middle-aged heroine, but in the brilliant little journey that Amy makes to find herself in the novel, we quickly learn that she has an old soul.
Involved in the early part of the Democratic run for a presidential candidate, with a clever mix of real and imagined candidates, Amy's struck by the parallel between a young Hispanic man who crashes a fund-raiser, claiming the blueblooded Senator who is running for office is his father. Amy's own life has been lived trying not to speculate on why and how her mother, Phyllis, left her in the care of crazy Grandma Lil and jailbird Chicky. Phyllis never once looked back, and Amy has to decide - does she want to find Phyllis and find the answers to all those questions or is it just safer to leave the genie in the bottle?
Interspersed with the quest for her identity are the often humorous anecdotes of Amy's struggle with editorial control at the magazine, and her on and off again romance
with John. Warning: there is a broken heart that really leaves you feeling bereft in this novel.
In the concluding chapters, I will admit to tears, because Isaacs truly engaged me in her character, and never went over-the-top for her laughs. Indeed, Isaacs practices wit more than humor, romance more than sexual heat, and contemporary writing more than groundbreaking plotting. Reviewing the above, you may yawn and think it's just another plot that's been done before, but you haven't counted on Isaacs' style and way with a phrase or a concept. Here she has Amy assess her life:
"I could fit in anywhere: With all the kids on the bus going upstate to visit their fathers in prison. With all the Ivey girls and the guys they hung with. In a government seminar at Harvard. Drinking with the Democratic powers-that-be in Chicago. Except when you could theoretically live a thousand different lives, how do you pick the one where you belong?"
Join Isaacs and Amy for a journey of discovery, and enjoy the wit, charm, warmth, and ultimately and unfortunately, the end of a smart new novel. Isaacs only averages
one novel every 2.5 years. That's way too few with too much space between them, for my taste. Thus, I pay full price whenever I see she's got a new one on the shelves....believe me, "Any Place I Hang My Hat", was worth every penny!
Amy's story is memorable -- she was abandoned by her mother as an infant, and raised by her delusioned, neglectful paternal grandmother, and by her father, when he was not in jail. She sees school and education as an escape, and when she has the chance, she accepts a scholarship at an elite boarding school. From there, she attends Harvard and Columbia school of journalism, and gets a job as a writer for a serious news magazine. Her travels through the different social levels of urban New York, from the projects to prisons to political circles to elite boarding schools, result in really striking and thought provoking commentary. (I didn't agree with every thing that Amy or the other characters said, and, happily, it didn't appear that Issacs was offering a lecture.) At the same time, the story is accessibly comtemporary, making frequent reference to recent world events and popular culture in a way that grounds the story in a particular time and place and gives the impression that Amy is not so devoted to politics and CSPAN that she has never watched reality TV.
Susan Issac creates a intelligent, self-sufficient, yet vulnerable character and neither Issacs not her character seems inclined to understimate the intelligence of the reader. Amy is charming, smart (reading four or five newspapers a day with a keen interest in politics and current events) and interested in what is going on in the world around her. In order to grasp and appreciate some of Amy's wit and social criticism, the reader is expected to be a smart, well-aware person as well. Amy Lincoln is a truly memorable literary character, incredibly thoughtful, observant, honest, witty, and vulnerable.
One of my favorite scenes is one where Amy falls in her apartment (she later learns that she had broken three ribs) and she is unable to get up off the floor. She is in pain, and worried that she had really hurt herself. She wants to call someone and ask for help, but is afraid that no one would be interested enough to come and help her. She does call an aquaintance, lying on her back on the floor, but she is unable to bring herself to tell him what has happened to her. When she can't keep him on the phone any longer, she makes her way to her bedroom, and in the morning takes herself to an emergency room. The quiet, resigned way in which she deals with her aloneness is heartbreaking and impressive at the same time. Though scared, Amy never seems depressed. I hope that this book gets the attention it deserves.
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