Melanie Braverman East Justice

ISBN 13: 9781877946721

East Justice

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9781877946721: East Justice
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From Kirkus Reviews:

Very slowly, a foggy story emerges from the lyrical reflections of Grace--a young woman who returns to her hometown of East Justice, Iowa, to take care of her dying mother and remains there, ``courting'' memories of childhood--in a thin if well- written first novel. Grace, now in her 30s, spends her days near home, quilting, sewing, cooking, baking, feeding the birds, caring for the elderly in the neighborhood--and inviting the past, as if it ``were a shy animal come to feed silently in the yard.'' In rich, chronological vignettes, this is what she remembers: an idyllic girlhood spent mainly in the company of her adored mother and beloved Russian Jewish grandmother, while her father kept long hours at work, selling farm machinery; and then, after her 13th birthday and a gay bas mitzvah, the sudden, frightening disruption of her safe, sane life when her father abruptly moved out of the house and her mother began to crumble from severe depression. Grace and her older brother and sister were all sent away--the brother to live across town with the father and the father's new girlfriend; the sister to stay with neighbors; and Grace all the way to Minnesota, to board with yuppie-ish and preoccupied but remarkably long-suffering young married cousins. The family never lives together again, and gradually it becomes clear that Grace's task now in reliving the past is to forgive her mother for having cut her adrift at a time when she had been ``bound to [her] like a fish forever on the line, running with, then against the current.'' Once she forgives her mother, she's able to sell the house she grew up in. Not much of a plot, to put it mildly. The pleasure is all in the precise, delicately shaded perceptions of Grace as a young girl. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

As if precisely wielding a tiny size-12 needle, Braverman has stitched a densely patterned coming-of-age quilt. In an old house on five unmowed Iowa acres, 30-ish narrator Grace stitches quilts from remnants and recalls a life in which she has been "utterly, inexcusably alone." Grace's grandmother, who remembers Cossack raids in her native Russia, dies just after Grace's bat mitzvah. Grace's father has moved out; and when her mother has a breakdown, Grace is separated from her siblings and sent from rural East Justice to live with cousins in Granite Bluffs. Grace's recollections of discovered sexuality and refuge in marijuana are among the most vivid and astonishing patches in an intricate bit of linguistic needlework. Later, in a brief stint in Washington State among lesbians and organic gardeners, she meets people surprised to learn of Jews in the Midwest: for Grace, this is the first time she is a person with a past. Returning home after her mother's death, Grace can't let go of the past, or of her longing, becoming a repository for the memories of her scattered family. Braverman fashions exquisite evocations of adolescent loneliness and raw, unfocused desire, but, in the absence of anything resembling a story, this first novel has trouble breathing beneath the humid weight of its own lyricism.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Melanie Braverman
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