Elizabeth Graver Awake

ISBN 13: 9780156030021

Awake

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9780156030021: Awake

Anna Simon has been living by the light of the moon ever since she gave birth to Max, a child with a rare genetic trait for whom sunlight can be fatal. For years, the Simons have structured their lives around Max's schedule. When Anna learns of a camp for families with children like Max, she envisions a sanctuary for her son, a place where he can play and be free. What she does not foresee is the sanctuary that this camp provides for her, as well. But as the family settles in to life at Camp Luna, it awakens in her double-edged desires that both restore her to her former freedoms and threaten to drive her away from the family she loves.

From the acclaimed author of The Honey Thief comes this remarkable portrayal of personal freedom, the kind that is imperceptible to the naked eye but as real and affecting as the bright sun on a crisp day.

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From the Author:

When I start writing, I always begin with so little-this time an image of people living in the dark-and then I grope my way forward, with almost no idea, at first, of where I am going. Looking back, I think I was drawn to this world because of how it contains so many strange reversals (the night world, a family life turned upside down,) and because it allowed me to explore things that have long interested me: safety and danger; community; the self's need for both autonomy and connection; the simultaneous fragility and robustness of human life; the contours of erotic life and desire. The family has been dealing with a rare genetic disease, XP, for nine years when the book opens; XP informs everything, but it is not the actual subject of the novel. Anna is the subject-the course her life has taken because of her son's illness; her efforts to reconcile her various selves; her marriage, which has stagnated over the years; her relationship to her two children; her strong attraction to Hal, the camp's director. The disease is, in some ways, the crucible in which all these things take place. "We grow accustomed to the Dark," Emily Dickinson wrote in the poem I used as the book's epigraph. The novel explores what happens once you're there.

From the Inside Flap:

"Graver has a remarkable, Tolstoyan handle on how minds and memories work: the waterfalls of desire and irrationality, the dream logic of inner monologues . . . . Would that there were more than just one Elizabeth Graver."-Robert Lalasz, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In Elizabeth Graver’s first novel, Unravelling, she explored the life of a 19th-century New England Mill girl who carves out a life for herself on the margins of society. In her second, The Honey Thief, Graver imagined her way into the lives of a contemporary mother and daughter trying to make sense of loss. Now, in her third and most ambitious novel, Graver turns to the story of a mother who, in seeking freedom for her young son, rediscovers her own need for it. The result is a powerful, unforgettable story of family, identity, and love.

Once a painter, a traveler, a lover of light, Anna Simon has been living in the dark ever since she gave birth to Max, a child with a rare genetic disease for whom even an hour in sunlight could prove fatal. For years, Anna has homeschooled Max and structured her life around his schedule, despite the fact that her husband Ian favors mainstreaming and wants Max to attend school with his older brother. When Anna learns of a camp in upstate New York for children with light sensitivity disorders, she sees room for a compromise between her own and Ian's approaches--a sanctuary for Max, a place where he can interact with other children and be both safe and free.

And so the summer that Max is nine, the family heads off to Camp Luna. At first, the place seems like the answer to their problems. But as Anna is drawn into life there and gets to know Hal, the camp's charismatic founder, freedom and safety soon prove to be complicated things. What begins as a novel about a family with a sick child quickly becomes an intricate, moving examination of one woman's identity as--given sudden breathing room--Anna looks around at her life and finds that she has lost track of essential pieces of herself. What, exactly, Anna comes to wonder, are safety and freedom? And at what cost -- to one's self and to the people in one's life --should they be protected and pursued?

Beautifully written, emotionally wrenching, Awake gives full rein to Elizabeth Graver's remarkable storytelling gifts as she limns the intricacies and passions of a woman's mind and heart. Elizabeth Graver is the author of Unravelling and The Honey Thief, both New York Times Notable Books. Her work has been included in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, as well as in Prize Stories: The O.Henry Awards. She teaches at Boston College and lives with her family in Massachusetts.

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