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A Year and a Day: A Novel Paperback – March 1, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
I started reading it and couldn't put it down. After I finished it, I couldn't get the characters out of my mind. I know at a future date, this will be a book I will want to read again. I can't really say what about the book grabbed me so quick and so hard, but it won't let go! I do know that I laughed out loud and cried more than once. Give it a try, I don't think you will be sorry.
It will come whether people want it to or not. What happens, though, when it's your own mother and not only did she want it to happen but she parked her car on a set of railroad tracks to ensure it?
Without a word. Without any clear indication that she was even contemplating such an action.
She always seemed so happy...didn't she? Loved to cook, made plans for the summer, played games and dressed up.
Why becomes a larger-than-life word when fifteen-year-old Alice Martin tries to understand and cope with her mother's suicide. Her outlook on life, as well as that of her brother's, changes dramatically with that one event.
Lacking maternal guidance, they are forced to make choices, explore life and love on their own. Run away or stay...give up or go on. A constant internal battle.
Hearing her mother's voice does not help the situation any. Alice expects her mother to answer her questions, explain things, give her advice. But a mother who barely understood how to cope with things herself is in no position to provide just the right words for an emotionally overloaded daughter.
So Alice deals in any way she can, which sometimes is by not dealing at all. Her life has become a quest for answers, for a truth that may not even exist and may not matter anyway.
Denial, desolation, sparks of hope and heartfelt longing are experienced by the reader as much as by the protagonist. Leslie Pietrzyk's research into suicide and its aftereffects breeds credibility and ignites an inner contemplation even for those who have not been touched by it personally.
Alice's world--1975 small-town Iowa--is lovingly and deftly created. Midwestern readers of a certain age can enjoy reliving their days of small-town rhythms, slumber parties, detasseling corn, and Jell-o salads. (Iowa still leads the nation in per capita Jell-o consumption.) Readers can also note that some things have changed-e.g., a pregnancy out of wedlock being such a social stigma that Paula Eland has to be sent out of town during her pregnancy. And, coming of age, realizing that things are not always as they seem, that there are no easy answers are experiences common to humankind.
It is frustrating to never learn the reasons for Mamma's suicide, but Alice comes to realize that there are not only no easy answers, sometimes there are no answers at all. Throughout the book Alice asks the unanswerable questions. Readers who have experienced such a loss will relate to Alice and may even hope that she finds the answers she is seeking. Yet we know in our hearts that the asking is part of healing and the echoes of the unanswered questions will last a lifetime.
The novel has a slow start in the aftermath of Mama's death, with small-town Iowa neighbors from central casting bringing various colors of Jell-O molds and uttering platitudes to the stunned family. And, as one of the editorial reviewers pointed out, there's no shortage of books about eccentric mothers and abandoned daughters (there's an eccentric aunt here, too). But I stuck with it and the characters grew on me tremendously, particularly Paula Elam and Joe Fry--two of the sort you think you know, then realize you don't know what they're like at all. I liked this enough that I'm looking forward to going back and reading Pietrzyk's first novel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm a motherless daughter, and this book hits the right notes. Compelling, and on the money. The little moments, the missing receipes, the times she needs her, the inexplicable... Read morePublished on February 11, 2009 by Jada
A few days after her mother's suicide, 15-year-old Alice begins hearing her voice. Not only does Annette speak to her, but allows Alice to hold two-sided conversations, asking and... Read morePublished on December 6, 2006 by Joanna M
A YEAR AND A DAY deals with the loss - through suicide - of Alice and Will's mother. The story is narrated by 15 year-old Alice and is set in rural Iowa during the 70's. Read morePublished on November 12, 2006 by Pamela A. Poddany
A Year and a Day is the typical, if not tired renditon of a coming of age teenage daugter and her coming of age brother dealing with the inexplicable suicide of their mother. Read morePublished on July 6, 2004
I got up early this morning to finish reading this book. It was engrossing, and well-written. Leslie Pietrzyk's writing is smooth and enjoyable, without any annoying snags or plot... Read morePublished on May 15, 2004 by A. Schultz
This is an excellent book; a compelling story with rich detail and exquisite character development presenting both the complexities and thrills we all encountered while growing up. Read morePublished on March 12, 2004