Bonds of love, family and friendship, sometimes damaged or beyond repair, are nevertheless celebrated in an intense debut by a noted poet.
Naomi Feinstein, the misfit child of misfit parents—an orphaned immigrant Jewish father and a depressed Catholic mother—grows up clever but lonely in Brookline, Mass., convinced by her father’s heart attack that her destiny lies in cardiac medicine. Friendship with Teddy, the boy next door, turns into an early but enduring love. However Teddy moves away, leaving Naomi alone once more while still questing for a closer relationship with her troubled mother. Accepted at Wellesley College, Naomi leaves home only to find that college life is just as solitary until a sudden act of heroism on her part leads to acceptance by the Shakespeare Society and friendships, notably with a privileged Japanese girl, Jun Oko. Although Naomi’s insularity becomes somewhat diminished, darker events will swallow three of the people she cares most about, and the largest lesson she must learn is that she cannot save any of them. Her efforts to do so and eventual emergence from sadness are charted with restraint and empathy in Percer’s lyrical, slightly dreamy narrative.
A subdued, thoughtful coming-of-age tale that hovers observantly on the edge of melancholia.