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Late Child Hardcover – May 12, 1995
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"Holly Banks Full of Angst" by Julie Valerie
A laugh-out-loud debut novel for anyone who’s tried to live the perfect life—and learned the hard way there’s no such thing. | Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0684809982
- ISBN-13 : 978-0684809984
- Dimensions : 6.75 x 1.75 x 9.5 inches
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster; First Edition (May 12, 1995)
- Item Weight : 1.8 pounds
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,583,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Meandering plot. Shallow characters. I hate to leave a book unfinished, but the truth is, I couldn't finish this one. I tried, but it was just a chore to pick it up and read it, and that's really not what reading is all about (unless you're in school). :)
I felt like I was reading a completely different author. How could I enjoy his Lonesome Dove series so much and feel so apathetic about this book? While I loved Gus and Call and Lori in Lonesome Dove, I just didn't care for Harmony, Eddie, Pat or Neddie. I really disliked the dialogue--it just seemed so stilted. I didn't believe a 5-year-old talked like Eddie. Harmony was just too strung out; it was hard to feel any sympathy.
I just have to shake my head regarding this novel. I was so disappointed. On the bright side, it only cost me a buck for the book.
In the first book Harmony coped with her difficult daughter, Pepper, and truggled to come to terms with aging. Now Harmony copes with the sudden news that Pepper, who she hasn't seen since Pepper left for New York at 17, six years before, is dead.
In her late 40s, Harmony has settled into a routine. She has a job in a recycling plant and an adored 5-year-old son named Eddie. Her current boyfriend, the latest in a long line of losers, runs off rather than deal with her grief. "She was not the same cheerful woman he had left only eight hours before."
Grief overwhelms Harmony, but Eddie keeps her tethered. "Eddie was the one person left that she absolutely had to think about."
Meeting her Oklahoma sisters at the airport, Harmony finally finishes the letter from Pepper's roomate. They were lovers as well as roomates, it seems, and Pepper died of AIDS.
A few days later Harmony sets off on a cross-country Odyssey with her sisters and Eddie. Harmony is looking for a new life and hungers for family solidarity back in Oklahoma. But even as their trip begins the two older sisters bicker constantly and the details of their lives begin to emerge in patterns of ragged desperation.
Harmony, bouts of disconnection alternating with her responsibility and love for Eddie, decides to go to New York and meet Laurie, the roomate. She must learn about Pepper's life and try and understand her death.
Eddie, a precocious and delightful child, with just enough brattiness to make him human, collects a family along the way - an abandoned dog, a teenage New Jersey prostitute and her sorry husband, three Indian entrepreneurs and Laurie.
While Laurie and Harmony try to join the pieces of the Pepper they knew, Eddie and his dog become celebrities and are invited to the White House. As Washington is on the way to Oklahoma, they get a school bus and the whole enthusiastic clan goes along. But slowly they begin to drop off - they cannot escape their lives by joining Harmony and Eddie's.
And in Oklahoma Harmony realizes that she did the right thing years ago - when she left her dead-end hometown and her negative, impossible-to-please mother.
McMurtry's portrayal of the grief of a mother for her child is clear-eyed and unsentimental. The zany characters and incidents along the way are humorous, jarring, irritating - visiting on the reader the same displacement life is visiting on Harmony.
While the zany happenings and heart-of-gold eccentrics sometime seem too Disneyish, only one aspect of Harmony's grief doesn't ring true. Although Pepper's death was sudden, for AIDS, only eight weeks, Harmony never asks why she wasn't told earlier, when she might still have seen her daughter alive. She doesn't agonize or even reflect over this, although she lingers over regrets about not visiting her daughter when it seemed they had all the time in the world.
I was entranced with the beginning, the development, and the travels through New York City. But I was disappointed with the arrival of the people in Oklahoma and the events of the ending. I felt that the focus moved away from the boy and to the problems of the adults. This caused the story to fizzle and to emphasize the minor characters too much and took away some of the power of journey.
Still, aside from the problems of the ending, a very enjoyable read that ranks among his finer books in my estimation.