Sarah Willis Some Things That Stay

ISBN 13: 9780374105808

Some Things That Stay

3.67 avg rating
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9780374105808: Some Things That Stay

A stunning first novel about a young girl's coming-of-age in the 1950s.

Tamara Anderson's father is a landscape artist who quickly tires of the scenery, so every year her family seeks out new locations for his inspiration. When the Andersons move to a farmhouse in Sherman, New York, in the spring of 1954, fifteen-year-old Tamara and her mother want to settle down and make it home. Sherman begins to work a strange magic on Tamara and her siblings: there's the proselytizing family in the tar-paper house across the street; the dairy cow that becomes a beloved pet; the dead boy who used to live in Tamara's bedroom; her friend Brenda, who teaches her to swear; and Brenda's big brother, Rusty, an irresistible freckle-faced redhead. While Tamara experiences her first real year of happiness, her mother is diagnosed with tuberculosis, forcing her into a sanatorium. Tamara struggles with her desire to stay in Sherman, her fear of losing her mother, and her anger at being left in charge of two younger siblings while her father escapes into the world of his art. Deeply moving, with a profound understanding of family dynamics and adolescent anguish, Some Things That Stay introduces an unforgettable narrative voice and marks the arrival of a distinctive, new American talent.

Sarah Willis is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has published several short stories. This is her first novel. She lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

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About the Author:

Sarah Willis, a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature, is also the author of Some Things That Stay, The Rehearsal, and A Good Distance. She lives in Ohio.

From Publishers Weekly:

The deceptively quiet voice that inhabits this intelligent and moving first novel belongs to Tamara Anderson, 15 years old in 1954, who comes of age within an unconventional family that's struggling in an era of social conformity. Her father is a landscape painter, so the family (including Tamara's younger siblings, Robert, 11, and Megan, seven) moves every year, living in furnished houses from Georgia to Idaho to Maine, owning only what can fit in a trailer. Stuart and Liz, Tamara's parents, met when Liz modeled nude for art classes, with Stuart defying his family to marry the woman who had flirted with the Communist Party. Now they are determined to bring up their children as atheists, teaching them evolution and carefully explaining sexuality and reproduction. The '50s era, with its shadow of Moral Rearmament, is vividly evoked with references to Davy Crockett hats, the generalized fear of a Communist conspiracy and the atom bomb, as Tamara's perceptions of her new home in upstate rural New York drive the narrative. She explores her new school, and religion and sexuality with the boy across the street, juxtaposing her need for stability against her family's transient life. When Liz becomes seriously ill with tuberculosis, the Anderson family is weighted with fear, sadness and uncertainty of a kind entirely new to them. Willis deftly balances her depiction of the domestic unit: vulnerable Tamara correctly believes no one is listening to her, and knows that in Stuart's life, art ranks above his children. Liz and Stuart are devoted to each other, and are alternately selfish and caring parents; their idiosyncrasies, such as overrationalized reckless styles of driving the family car, suggest larger problems. Not a seamless tale, the narrative is hampered by a few stale patches of exposition, but overall, Tamara's uncommonly lucid, honest and expansive view marks this as a luminous, impressive debut. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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