A potent story that offers an engaging meditation on the most basic desire—to know oneself.

Connected Underneath

As a family secret festers, a father strives to connect with his adrift teenage daughter in Legters’ emotional debut novel.   

Theo has raised the now-teenage Persephone, nicknamed “Seph,” since the day she was born. Back then, young Natalie, Seph’s birth mother, handed her daughter, the product of a fling with the high school basketball star, over to Theo, her loyal and protective friend, and she didn’t look back. He was a motorcycle-riding, boot-wearing, tattooed outcast, but he always wanted a family of his own. As a result, he was all too happy to adopt a child, due to his own genetic history of abuse and alcoholism. So without the help of his own parents or a partner, Theo raised Seph alone. He and Natalie remained in the same town and built lives of their own, but they made good on their promise never to tell Seph the identities of her real mother or father. But as she grows up, she starts staying out until all hours without returning phone calls, and develops a penchant for tattoos, dark clothing, and solitude. As a result, Theo worries that he and Natalie made the wrong choice by keeping her true origins from her. Seph’s habits and attitudes might seem normal for a teenager coming into her own, but Theo has a bad feeling about them, and it turns out that his fears aren’t entirely unfounded. A deep, spectacular tension propels this story forward as both Theo and Seph try to discover who they are to each other, so that they may find their own places in the world and within their family. Legters relays their psychological journeys with an acute urgency and a sense of inevitable doom (“Seph was born feeling lost”). It’s more than a story about adoption, family secrets, or guilt; it also addresses other universal matters, such as parents’ desires to be relevant to their children as they grow up and, as Theo puts it, how they can “break…the news that adults can make the worst possible decisions.” Eventually, the truth about Seph’s parentage comes out, and it’s not what readers will expect.

A potent story that offers an engaging meditation on the most basic desire—to know oneself. 

Pub Date: April 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59021-336-0

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Lethe Press

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2016

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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