Elizabeth Strout Amy and Isabelle

ISBN 13: 9780375501340

Amy and Isabelle

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9780375501340: Amy and Isabelle
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With compassion, humor, and striking insight, Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the love         between a mother and her daughter. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality. When discovered, this emotional and physical trespass brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies the shame she feels about her own past. In a fury, she lashes out at her daughter's beauty and then retreats into outraged silence. Amy withdraws, too, and mother and daughter eat, sleep, and even work side by side but remain at a vast, seemingly unbridgeable distance from each other.
          
This conflict is surrounded by other large and small dramas in the town of Shirley Falls--a teenage pregnancy, a UFO sighting, a missing child, and the trials of Fat Bev, the community's enormous (and enormously funny and compassionate) peacemaker and amateur medical consultant. Keeping Isabelle and Amy as the main focus of her sharp, sympathetic eye, Elizabeth Strout attends to them all. As she does so, she  reveals not only her deep affection for her characters, both serious and comic, but her profound wisdom about the human condition in general. She makes us care about these extraordinary ordinary people and makes us hope that they  will find a way out of their often self-imposed emotional exile.

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Review:

"It was terribly hot the summer Mr. Robertson left town." For Amy Goodrow and her mother, Isabelle, the heat of that summer is the least of their problems. Other citizens in the New England mill town of Shirley Falls are bothered by the heat and by "other things too: Further up the river crops weren't right--pole beans were small, shriveled on the vine, carrots stopped growing when they were no bigger than the fingers of a child; and two UFOs had apparently been sighted in the north of the state." But Amy and Isabelle have a more private misery: a seemingly unbridgeable chasm has opened between this once-close mother and daughter and nothing will ever be the same again. For Amy has fallen in love with her high-school math teacher, Mr. Robertson, who has gone way beyond the bounds of propriety by encouraging the crush. When Isabelle finds out, she is horrified to realize that her anger at him is dwarfed by her rage at her own daughter for "enjoying the sexual pleasures of a man while she herself had not."

Mother-daughter novels can, by virtue of their subject matter, often seem claustrophobic, a little overwrought; Elizabeth Strout masterfully avoids this problem by placing Amy and Isabelle in the larger context of the community they inhabit. Though her main focus is on the Goodrow women, Strout often detours into the lives and thoughts of her many secondary characters: Isabelle's coworkers Dottie Brown and Fat Bev; Amy's best friend, Stacy Burrows; Stacy's ex-boyfriend, Paul Bellows; and women from Isabelle's church such as Peg Dunlap and Barbara Rawley. She also introduces a chilling frisson of menace with the unsolved abduction of a 12-year-old girl and a mysterious obscene phone-caller. Like the best of Alice Hoffman, Amy and Isabelle offers up a moving yet resolutely unsentimental portrait of people coming to terms with their lives, finding unsuspected nobility in themselves and unexpected kindness in others along the way. Elizabeth Strout has written a gem of a novel. --Alix Wilber

From the Back Cover:

"A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life."
--Alice Munro

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780375705199: Amy and Isabelle: A novel

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0375705198 ISBN 13:  9780375705199
Publisher: Vintage, 2000
Softcover

9780375752469: Amy And Isabelle

publisher, 2007
Softcover

9781568957289: Amy and Isabelle (Wheeler Large Print Compass Series)

Wheele..., 1999
Hardcover

9781849833042: Amy & Isabelle

Simon ..., 2011
Softcover

9780684861593: Amy and Isabelle

Simon ..., 1999
Softcover

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