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Dear Lucy: A Novel Hardcover – April 23, 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Sarkissian’s bold debut novel features a unique protagonist, the affectionate and eccentric Lucy, a mentally challenged young girl sent to live on a farm after her mother is no longer able to care for her. Also living there is Samantha, a pregnant teenager who takes Lucy under her wing while Lucy waits to be reunited with her mother. Lucy is eager to please those around her and is fascinated with the idea of family, particularly with her hope of seeing Samantha together with the father of her baby. But Samantha has promised the baby to the farm’s owners, known as Mister and Missus. Interjections of Missus’ first-person narration slowly reveal a tormented past involving the loss of her adopted daughter years earlier. When the baby is born and Samantha has a change of heart, Lucy takes off on an unexpected journey to fulfill a promise to Samantha. Lucy’s dazzling stream of consciousness is heightened with elements of fantasy—she is accompanied and guided by a talking pet chicken—while Sarkissian tenderly depicts her characters’ frailties, fears, and desires. --Leah Strauss

Review

Dear Lucy introduces a young writer with a most original voice and a tenderly eccentric vision. Julie Sarkissian has created a boldly lyrical, suspenseful, and mysterious fictional world in this striking debut novel.” (Joyce Carol Oates)

“[A] captivating debut . . . a distinct voice that will hold up to the inevitable comparisons to Room and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” (PublishersWeekly.com)

"A childlike female narrator—strange but full of naïve wonder . . . comes of age in a timeless story of motherhood, family, and loss in rural America. . . . Heightened realism that mingles easily with flights of occasional fantasy." (WMagazine.com)

"A quirky but captivating debut." (Good Housekeeping)

“Sarkissian is a fine prose stylist, and the three voices in the novel are distinct. Her writing manages to be poetic without ever veering off into preciousness.” (AVClub.com)

“Every once and a while a new voice comes along that is so beautifully different from anything you've read before that it is hard to even dream up where it came from. Such is the voice of Lucy the title character in Julie Sarkissian's debut novel, Dear Lucy . . . Written in poetic prose, the novel's language sweeps you up from the first pages . . . Mysterious and haunting.” (PolicyMic.com)

An ambitious debut expresses different versions of maternal need through three female voices . . . a struggle for comprehension, memory and expression, lit with shafts of insight and fantasy. (Kirkus Reviews)

“Sarkissian’s bold debut novel features a unique protagonist . . . [her] dazzling stream of consciousness is heightened with elements of fantasy—she is accompanied and guided by a talking pet chicken—while Sarkissian tenderly depicts her characters’ frailties, fears, and desires.” (Booklist)

“An ambitious, complex novel offering themes about the fragility of life, love and being loved.” (ShelfAwareness.com)

“Julie Sarkissian has written the most original and stunning debut novel I have read in a long time. Dear Lucy is one of those rare delights that you cannot put down, and once you do, you can’t forget.” (Ann Hood New York Times bestselling author of The Red Thread and The Knitting Circle)

Dear Lucy is about keeping promises against huge odds. This gorgeous novel does exactly that: the opening pages promise transcendent writing, remarkable characters, and a slowly unfolding mystery. But what happened and why is only part of what keeps you reading . . . Both whimsical and profound, Dear Lucy wins your heart on the very first page and delivers it back, fuller and slightly cracked, on the last.” (Charlotte Rogan New York Times bestselling author of The Lifeboat)

"In Dear Lucy, Julie Sarkissian has accomplished what many veteran novelists never achieve: a startlingly original work that is also profound and wise in the vagaries of the heart. What an amazing debut." (Ron Rash New York Times bestselling author of Serena and The Cove)

"Julie Sarkissian has written a rare and precious novel - moving, captivating, and expertly written in a voice unlike any other. Dear Lucy is full of characters who are heartbreakingly human; full of hope, desperation, love and joy. You’ll want to linger over the poetry of each and every sentence, but the foreboding mystery looming on the horizon will keep you turning the pages of this hauntingly beautiful book." (Haley Tanner author of Vaclav and Lena)

“Hypnotic and mesmerizing. This is gothic noir that is full of heart and pathos. Lucy’s lyric voice comes barreling off the page, and you will be utterly transfixed by the twists and turns of her journey. Sarkissian is a brilliant young writer who has written one of the most memorable debut novels in recent years.” (Gabe Hudson author of Dear Mr. President)

“A story told in voices, all of which have compelling power.” (The Irish Examiner)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451625723
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451625721
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,105,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book very unreal. Dysfunctional characters, including a talking chicken that was hidden in a child's pocket. The premise of the story was believable - wounded characters who bond together and understand each other, and gain strength from each other. However, as the story unwinds, the characters become more and more unbelievable and their circumstances more implausible.
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This book was so unexpectedly good. The story starts out seemingly benign with a couple taking in two girls -- one with special needs and one an unwed mother. But as the book goes on, it just gets more disturbing and riveting that I really could not put it down. The author did a perfect job of dropping bombshells bit by bit so the whole situation just becomes increasingly twisted and intriguing. I very much enjoyed this and will be waiting for more from this author.
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This book brought several others to mind. Room, by Emma Donoghue, because of the young protagonist's voice, The Lovely Bones, because of the flow of the narrative, and The Crimson Petal and The White, because of the ending. However, the whole Jennifer thing seemed like an insult to any reader's intelligence. I couldn't figure out if it was real or imagined until she was seen by someone other than Lucy, but what baby animal of any kind makes no noise whatsoever, and is content to live in a dress pocket? And so, was Lucy as mentally slow as everyone thought, if she could give a voice to Jennifer so she herself could follow it? And why didn't anyone see to it that Lucy went to school or saw a doctor? The time period was never divulged, but felt like it could've been anywhere from about the '30s to the '60s. Lucy's age was never revealed but it seemed like it could've been anything between 8 and 18. Those both sound like they could've been intriguing but I found them annoying. I think the writing was good, but the story was too convoluted for its own good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lucy is that old soul whom I love within minutes of starting this book. She touches her world with her heart and listens to the rhythms of her heart. But in my soul, I wonder if I would be able to see that gentle heart in real life. Her mother has sent her to live with Missus and Mister, because she could no longer cope with her. Now Mum mum is no one's idea of a perfect mother with her serial boyfriends and all night escapades. Lucy knows "sometimes people, they don't listen to you unless they are hurting." Her favorite method for this is hair pulling. And she will tell you her exact thoughts, as loud as it needs to be. And she can love the eggs on the chicken farm tightly.

Living on the farm is Samantha that has a baby inside her, and she loves Lucy. The author leads us slowly that something is "off". In alternating chapters the stories unroll. The writing is deft and the voices of Lucy and those around her add authenticity and depth to the story. The difficult musings of Lucy's thoughts are portrayed without reverting to cutesy or condensation. It is a lucid lovely book. And I still hope I am a person who would be able to see for the luminous creature she is if I were to meet her in real life, and I am sure I will never know for sure.
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Format: Hardcover
It's a real testament to how much I loved this book that I couldn't even begin to write my review until a few days after I had finished it. I needed time to let the book sit, to let it breathe. I needed to mull over the story I had read, contemplate the characters. Honestly, it's what all reading should be like. Unfortunately, I've had a rough couple of weeks here at Cozy Little Book Journal and I've been reading far too many books that have left me feeling flat, discouraged or just plain annoyed. Thank goodness for Julie Sarkissian!

Dear Lucy is a story told in a series of first-person narratives, primarily from three characters: Lucy, a developmentally challenged teenager who is sent to live on a farm when her mother finds her overwhelming; Samantha, a pregnant teen with few confidants; and Missus, one half of the mysterious couple who runs the farm. Each character tells her version of events, but each has difficulty judging her situation objectively (don't we all?).

I fell in love with the character of Lucy instantly. She is sweet and sincere and her narrative voice is fully realized and believable. The comparisons to Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time are warranted. As Lucy struggles to please the people in her life, the reader is able to decode the signals that Lucy isn't. Namely, that her mother ("Mum mum") may not be up to the task of raising a child--with or without special needs--that Samantha isn't being completely honest with her about the father of her baby, and that Lucy's trust in people is often misplaced. In fact, Lucy's naïveté often made me feel tense as I was reading, so convinced was I that something awful was bound to happen to her at any moment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was a refreshing read. I will echo another reviewer in saying that while the subject matter is quite disturbing (themes like abuse, neglect, religious hypocrisy), it's uncovered bit by bit, gradually and gracefully. I felt safe seeing the story through Lucy's eyes, through the filter of her innocence. I trusted Lucy and loved how the teenage mother Samantha trusted Lucy as well, more than anyone in the world in fact. Because despite being "dumb" and "bad", Lucy is honest and lives by a few guiding principles- keeping promises, nurturing things that need to grow, and preserving the family at all costs. It's rare to find such consistency of character in fully grown adults. And boy, the adults in this book are double-minded to the extreme. Lucy is a beacon of integrityr compared to the self-righteous and screwed up people around he. Even as I watched Lucy struggle with her priorities and loyalties in the end, I knew she would be the hero. I trusted her. Jennifer the chicken added a surprising layer to the story and made me love Lucy even more.

So beautifully written. I felt like each word was carefully chosen. The author reveals just enough about the characters and situations to tell the story well, and keep it concise. It left me wanting more. I will definitely be reading this one again!
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