The Beginners
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The Beginners

2.49 of 5 stars 2.49  ·  rating details  ·  368 ratings  ·  128 reviews
The chilling, hypnotically beautiful story of a girl whose coming of age is darkened by the secret history of her small New England town.

Theo and Raquel Motherwell are the only newcomers to the sleepy town of Wick in fifteen-year-old Ginger Pritt's memory. Hampered by a lingering innocence while her best friend, Cherry, grows more and more embroiled with boys, Ginger is...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published June 1st 2011)
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karen
this book has a beautiful cover.

upon a cobalt blue background, a young girl in a black bathing suit appears enraptured. over this is a gilded overlay depicting a forest of bare-branched trees, and what appears to be a fox treeing a cat. this book has 291 pages and costs $26.95.

this book has a beautiful cover.


**a quick addition after reading some other goodreaders' reviews of this. this is most emphatically NOT a YA title. any book that has the following passage, my hands gripped the maplewood bo...more
Joel Brown
I read this eerie thriller based on a review (NYT?) and because it's set in a thinly disguised version of Massachusetts' Quabbin reservoir area. I lived near there at one point and became fascinated with the story of the drowned towns. There was also supposed to be sexy supernatural evil in the book. And there is some. But it's so lyrically written that I'm still not exactly sure what happened toward the end.

It's the story of a teenaged girl in this dead-end town who becomes fascinated with a pa...more
Mary
I want to go back and find the person who recommended this book to me before I bought it a year ago and shake them. SHAAAAAAAAKE.

Reasons I bought the book (on deep discount, in a going bye-bye Borders): promise of ghosts, promise of New England coming of age for a bookish ginger girl, promise of history re: Salem Witch trials (my fav!).

Now... the ghosts and the Witch Trials are in peripheral bits that are not followed through on at all throughout the book, and the "coming of age" part is steeped...more
Virginia
groan. ugh. sigh. blah. oh come ON.

and that about sums it up. look, i respect a book with ambitions. really i do. i was an english major! i live for that shit! but please, like, don't insult me, you know? everything in this book was just so...just so. a young girl's sexual awakening in a town with a history of witch persecutions (gee, what could those two things have to do with each other? that's so original and subtle!). the protagonist sees two crows described in a sinister way, only to have t...more
Courtney
I just had to check out the reader reviews for this book after finishing it. I felt confused and sort of let down with the ending and the way it was written. I was hoping to find some answers in the reviews assuming that I must have overlooked some imortant passages revealing the plot of the story. Turns out everyone had the same problems I did. I was an english major and I have to say the extensive use of language in this book, although impressive, had me glossing over many words I did not know...more
Virginia
Disappointing. Boring. Predictable. One review said it had a nice cover.
The cover says it is a story of a 15-year-old girl in a small town who meets a young dashing, worldly and sophisticated couple who are new to the town, and they discover "the town's darker history back to the days of the Salem witch trials" (that's a quote from the cover--ha!) It is about a 15-year-old girl in a small town, who is immature for her age. She and her best friend still play make believe castle games. She becomes...more
Tracey
This is one of those books that make me feel stupid after I read it. The premise of the story sounded good to me but, much like, A Reliable Wife, it seemed the story was lost in a lot of the detail. I expected there to be a mystery or a supernatural element in this book but I don't think there was anything. I didn't care about who the Motherwells turned out to be, I just wanted Ginger to stop hanging out with them so I didn't have to read anymore. I only finished this book because I kept telling...more
Leila Cohan-Miccio
What the fuck?

I mean, I like ghosty literary fiction as much as the next girl, but I like mine peppered with any realistic sense of how people speak, think, or behave. This read like someone's dream journal after they'd read Notes On a Scandal while watching The Crucible.
Catherine Siemann
I was surprised at the low ratings this one is getting here; I'd never heard of it until I found it browsing at a small local bookstore, but I found it immensely readable. While it uses some of the same formulas popular in YA fantasy/horror -- bookish small-town girl, not quite ready to figure out the practicalities of getting out of town but uneasy with the limitations of her community -- it turns them to impressive effect.

Part of what works so well is the narrative voice: Ginger, the first pe...more
Glenda Christianson
I initially gave this book to my 15 year old daughter to read. She returned it and boy, am I glad she did. She said she just didn't get it and I agree with her.

This book is portrayed as a YA book that combines coming of age with the Salem witch trial/paranormal. Sounds like a great combination! It just never went anywhere. I kept reading, waiting for more information, more plot, more anything... It never materialized.

The 15 year old main character did not come across as a 15 year old, even a g...more
Jessica Jeffers
Ugh, I gave this one up about a hundred pages in. I read some good things about this book, about a young woman uncovering secrets about the new neighbors in her small New England town, but man it just did not deliver. I hated the main character, Ginger. I thought that she took things way, way too seriously for a fifteen year old. I get that she was supposed to be bookish, socially awkward, an outside, but man - she reminded me of a character from my own life that a friend and I used to snarkily...more
Chad Sayban
The Beginners takes us into the life of fifteen-year-old Ginger Pritt and her life growing up in a too-small town. While her best friend Cherry has taken to chasing boys, Ginger feels enslaved by her own innocence until the arrival of a sophisticated couple from the city who take a keen interest in her. But who are they and why are they so interested in her while so uninterested in the rest of the town?

“I was standing there in my usual spot behind to counter at the Top Hat Café, looking down, t
...more
Merredith
This book is billed as the story a young 15 year old girl in a small town who meets a young couple who are strangers to the town, and together they uncover a mystery about the town's past and wich hunting and witch practices. the first part is true. it's about a 15 year old girl in a small town, who is young for her age. she still plays make believe castle games, but she also uses really big words, like anne shirley in anne of green gables. like anne, she has a bosom buddy, her best friend, who...more
Mandy Jo
This week’s headline? “He Touched Me”

Why this book? supposedly about witches

Which book format? Half Price hardback

Primary reading environment? an unflooded valley

Any preconceived notions? arrogant verbal hyperbole

Identify most with? “shiny twelfth-grade girls”

Three little words? " That’s called ‘dusk’”

Goes well with? “mulchy, nutritious odor”

Recommend this to? an MFA candidate?

“Listen,” she said, as I sat down. “If Cherry won’t tell hers, as host I feel as though I should offer one of mine. But
...more
Erin
The only reason I gave this book any stars is that it kept my interest. I found myself looking forward to picking it back up again. That said, it was unsatisfying in the end, and I spent way too much time skimming.

Most of the book I felt like the author was trying too hard. Some of the writing was special - and very beautiful. But much of it was just overwrought. Reading about dream sequences - not that interesting. Lots of pretentious BS sprinkled in. I found the pornography way over the top -...more
Virginia
Already having loved the wry, darkly wrought voice in Wolff's three poetry collections, and the Victorian gothic bent of _Manderley_, my high expectation were met but in strange and unsettling ways by The Beginners (a title I assumed, perhaps correctly?, to be homologous with Zen "beginner's mind). Ginger and Cherry, young teens in a small town, cast spells such as "To Make Oneself Invisible, and Walk Amongst the People": throughout the novel, the horror and realist genres prove inseparable (as...more
Nicole
Fifteen year-old Ginger, who sounds nothing like a fifteen year-old in her narration, becomes instantly infatuated with the new couple that moves to her small hometown in Massachusetts, and the ensuing story is supposed to be one of coming of age. However, at times I began to wonder exactly what I was reading. Ginger claims to be very mature for her age, yet her complete acceptance of the Motherwells, no matter how bizarre their behavior seems to carry her 'innocence' a step or two beyond believ...more
Nina
I heard Rebecca Wolff being interviewed on NPR, and the book sounded good. It wasn't. Very overwrought, pages and pages of gothic-sounding descriptions of ghosts and towns that were deliberately drowned. Ginger, the protagonist, is a fifteen year old girl with the voice of someone much older. She becomes obsessed with the Motherwells, a strange couple who move to town for no apparent reason, and devotes herself to them, losing her best friend in the process. Her loving mom and dad let her do thi...more
Susan Wyler
I was stunned by the beauty of this book, one of the most memorable I've read in a long time. Her writing is lyrical, the characters shaded and moving about in a haunted landscape. An internal experience, and a story that's evocative.
It saddens me to see the ratings it's getting. I fear we've lost our way, in the last century, in trying to teach writers to write and winding up with writers who so often write the same way, so when something lovely and fresh comes along we can't even see it.
Rebe...more
Gina
i can't believe this book has such low ratings! i hope you will believe me when i say this book is very, very excellent. it is incredibly beautifully written- clear and narrative but with descriptions and tone such that you know a poet wrote it. a strange and careful story, spooky and tense. one of my favorite novels of last year.
Lisa
At a certain point, I couldn't put this book down because I wanted to see the conclusion, but I began to skim the parts where the character Raquel was speaking because she was exhausting and a bore. Which may have been Rebecca Wolff's point.

There was much left to the reader's imagination. I'm okay with that.
Gwen
Horrible, weird and disturbing...
Neil
If you look at dirty magazines too much you will get into trouble. That’s exactly what happened to 15 year old Ginger Pritt in this book. Also, don’t accept the artwork in the book review section of the Sunday newspaper as the sign of a great book. That’s exactly what happened to me. I enjoyed the spooky Halloween illustration (in summer) that accompanied the review of this book in the Boston Sunday Globe more than the story itself.

Nevertheless, the book is well written. Rebecca Wolff is a poet...more
Lisa
I checked this book out at the library because my friend blogged about it for the Tattered Cover, and I read it today. The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff is memorizing - probably in part to Wolff's choice of language and the fact that she is a poet. She weaves the words into a story which hypnotizes the reader. It's a story of a girl who is smart but feels invisible, maybe even is invisible, and her awakening brought about in part by a mysterious couple who moves to the small town of Wick. Ginger's...more
Erika
Initial reactions:

I just don't know about this book. I keep wavering between liking it and not so much. I'll have to think about it for a while and come back with a longer review that expresses more of how I felt reading this.

One thing is for sure - this is NOT a YA book. I'm not sure where Goodreads gets this from. I never thought it was but don't want anyone to be deceived by the label here. Even though it has a teen protaganist, I just can't picture any of this as "YA".

Final Review:

Rebecca Wo...more
Colleen
this book had potential but it just got weird and ultimately didn't really go anywhere. it centers around a very odd relationship between a teenage girl and her best friend and a mysterious new, married couple who have just moved into town. the girls become infatuated with this couple and begin spending all of their time with them. there is an underwater city near their town (it was evacuated and submerged long ago) which appears to play a big part in the story, but then seems like it almost get...more
Caroline Bartels
Really compelling story of young Ginger Pritt, a fifteen year old who is ahead a year in school, with a best friend who is behind a year. They are inseparable until the summer the Motherwell's, a curious young couple floats into town and seems to mesmerize the two girls, filling them both with desires for things more grown up than they are able to handle in their innocence. It was a two day read for me, one I was reading for SLJs blog for adult novels for teens. I wanted to be able to recommend...more
Andrea
Oct 05, 2011 Andrea is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly- this book is better than it seems at first glance.
I am half way through, mostly wondering why I am reading it at all. Forget that I can't recall putting a hold on it- must have mistaken it for something else- but it was on the library shelf with my ID slip tucked into the cover. Been chugging along reading it in bits and pieces, because here it sits on my nightstand for the duration our library furlough and the chaos of the last week of summer/first week of school.....no time to think...more
Lolly LKH
There is something chillingly eerie about this novel that I can't quite put my finger on. For one, it is different and Wolff's writing is poetic. She also appears to have a love affair with words. I am surprised more people haven't raved about this story. Theo and Raquel Motherwell have slipped into town, strangers that soon ingratiate themselves into the lives of best friends Giner and Cherry. A coming of age story with dark undertones. We slowly watch Ginger's sexual awakening at the seductive...more
Ricki Jill Treleaven
While on our road trip, I read The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff. I hated this book. I think this is only the second book I have blogged about that I hate because I truly try to maintain a positive blog, but I feel the necessity to warn you about this one.

Several months ago when this book was first released there was TONS of hype!!! I suppose that should have been my first red flag. But the fact that Wolff earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop (a program my daughter so badly wants to join...more
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Rebecca Wolff is the editor of Fence and the author of Manderley, Figment and Continuum. She lives in Athens, New York, with her family and is a Fellow of the New York State Writers Institute.
More about Rebecca Wolff...
Not For Mothers Only The King: Poems Manderley Figment A Best of Fence, The First Nine Years, Volume I

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