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Child of My Heart

McDermott, Alice

2,418 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0374121230 / ISBN 13: 9780374121235
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2002
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Joseph Fox Bookshop (Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)

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signed by author, out of print. Bookseller Inventory # 001409

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Child of My Heart

Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


A young girl's astonishing, poignant first look into the turbulent heart of things

"I had in my care that summer four dogs, three cats, the Moran kids, Daisy, my eight-year-old cousin, and Flora, the toddler child of a local artist. There was also, for a while, a litter of wild rabbits, three of them, that had been left under our back steps.... "

Alice McDermott's haunting and enchanting new work of fiction--her first since the bestselling Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award--is narrated by a woman who was born beautiful. Her parents decided that her best chance in life was to marry a wealthy man, so she was raised on the east end of Long Island, among the country houses of the rich. On the cusp of fifteen, she is the town's most sought-after babysitter--cheerful, beloved, a wonder with children and animals, but also a solitary soul with an already complex understanding of human nature--when her favorite cousin, Daisy, comes to spend the summer.

The narrator's witty, piquant, deeply etched evocation of all that was really transpiring under the surface during that seemingly idyllic season gives her wry tale--infused with suppressed passion, disappointment, and enduring hope--its remarkable vividness and impact. Once again, Alice McDermott explores the mysterious depths of what seems like everyday life with unforgettable insight and resonant emotional power.


Fifteen is a year of clarity; you're still one of the kids, but you're finally beginning to unlock the mysteries of adult behavior. In her luminous novel Child of My Heart, Alice McDermott's narrator is a 15-year-old girl who has two qualities that give her access to the secret lives of adults: she's beautiful, and she looks after their children. Her beauty has already shaped her life. Her parents have moved the family to the east end of Long Island in hopes of finding her a wealthy husband, or at least a fancy crowd to run with. Here she babysits the children of the rich, whose fathers demonstrate their relative decency by making passes at her, or not. The novel spans a dreamy summer as our heroine spends her days with her various charges at the beach, happily leading her crew on home-grown, rather sweet adventures. Among the kids she looks after is a toddler whose father is a famous, aging artist. The narrator's preternatural acuity is apparent in this exchange with a new client: "Mrs. Richardson learned by direct inquiry that I lived in that sweet cottage with the dahlias (interested) and went to the academy (more interested) and babysat for this child of the famous artist (most interested) down the road." Child of My Heart is a pretty straightforward coming-of-age novel, but it's marked throughout by this beautifully honed, wry, knowing tone. McDermott's narrator reminds us that our lost innocence might not have been so innocent after all. --Claire Dederer

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