- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (January 30, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385338759
- ISBN-13: 978-0385338752
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Send Me Paperback – January 30, 2007
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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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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. They aren't in chronological order, aren't labeled as to what character is becoming the narrator of each chapter, which puts a burden on the reader that I found uncomfortable at times. My feeling is the author's disjointed, frustrating tone was intentional, to mimic the state of mind of the characters throughout. The final narrative, by Teresa, ties up loose ends and recaps what happened to each of the characters, and reinforces her role as the individual who did as good a job as possible for her family, despite the obstacles and lack of appreciation. We can also appreciate the author's originality and skill in presenting an admirable first work of fiction. Five stars out of five, including a bonus for originality and gritty realism.
One thing that makes Send Me a stand out first novel and that helps save it from sinking into outright despair is that each chapter is written basically as a stand alone story. This makes it possible for novel's focus to shift from one character to another and back and forth in time creating a portrait of an American family falling apart, instead of a linear narrative of a family's collapse. Each non-chronological chapter creates a study of one character, or of the family at one point in time. One chapter tells us how things are now; the next may tell us what things were like before or long after the previous one. They all work together to create a kind of narrative tension that keeps the reader involved in the on-going story. While what happens next is not necessarily what happens next, I still wanted to know what would happen next.
In one chapter, the family heads inland away from their coastal Florida home to avoid a hurricane. Teresa and her second husband, Roy, take all four children to a run down motel where they share a single room for the night. Roy has recently lost his job with NASA and cannot afford better accommodations. There is no magical coming together under pressure in this chapter. It's soon clear to the reader that Roy is thinking about leaving his family and that his family won't miss him much once he's gone. Roy is trying, he makes every effort to be a father to his step children and to his own; he did not want to run from the hurricane in the first place but did so to please Teresa. The reader realizes that Teresa has not found what she wanted in Roy, that she may not even know what it is she wants in a husband. The children are all in the midst of one dreadful phase or another. Things go from bad to worse throughout the night until only daughter Karen walks in on her brother Matt who has gone into the shared bathroom to be alone and was in no condition to be walked in on.
The next morning, Roy sneaks out and drives back home alone while his family sleeps. I expected him to drive away and never return. That is what would probably happen in a more linear narrative. While Roy went to a house several blocks from his family's home where Leona, the woman whom he's having an affair with, lives to make sure she is okay, he did return to the hotel. This is another thing that makes Send Me work so well--we do not see the big blow-out scenes that take place in the family, the day Roy finally leaves for instance. Instead, we see one memorable day that shows us the complex family dynamic so well that we understand why Roy will eventually leave and what this will inevitably do to Teresa and her children. If we read a scene describing the day Roy left we couldn't help but take sides with either Roy or Teresa. By jumping forwards and backwards in time and by shifting the focus of the novel Mr. Ryan makes it possible for the reader to remain sympathetic with all of the novel's characters.
Roy's chapters are told in the third person, but Joe, the third child in the family, is the first person narrator of his. Joe is probably the family member most likely to succeed, to find happiness in life, but this is not at all clear in his chapter. Joe is close to his younger brother Frankie who is gay like Joe is, though their relationship is often love-hate. Frankie came out of the closet first, in spite of being younger, and came out big. Joe feels that Frankie has used all of the family's good will for coming out and made such a big splash of himself, become so flamboyant, that his own coming out would be viewed with suspicion if not just dismissed as copying Frankie. (In the end Joe is right about this.) In his chapter Joe goes to visit Frankie at college where Frankie is living the high life, staying off campus and selling drugs to support a lifestyle devoted much more to parties than to study. He is very popular and sleeps with a series of boyfriends and hook-ups. Joe sees him as so successfully gay that he cannot compete. He lives in the dorm, has no real friends, cannot bring himself to approach the one boy he is interested in. Joe will take much longer than Frankie did to come to terms with himself and to come out. He must also come to terms with a younger brother who will always be much more fabulous than he is.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Patrick Ryan uses a family as his cast, which allows him to focus on specific characters for different sections of the work.Read more