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Shauna Seliy
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The Trials And Tribulations Of Lucas Lessar

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  316 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Set against the collapse of an industry that has sustained an immigrant community for generations, 'The Trials and Tribulations of Lucas Lessar' is an atmospheric yet startling tale of one family's long winter - and the promise of a spring that might eventually emerge.
Paperback, 259 pages
Published by Bloomsbury UK (first published December 1st 2008)
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Helen Beesley
Aug 04, 2013 Helen Beesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Reads like a memoir, and the main character is just so awesome.
Oct 02, 2015 Bethany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"She walked over to a pile of clothes, picked up a big dress, and held it up to the light. 'Oh my,' she whispered. 'What is this doing here?' She ran her hand over it. 'This was my mother's. She wore it all the time.' She laid it down, carefully, on top of the pile. 'All the time.'
'Is she dead?' I said.
'What's wrong with you? You remember her, don't you? You remember when she died?'
'Not your mother,' I said. 'Mine.'"

When We Get There was such a rich book, each word used perfectly. My heart ached
Lisa Mettauer
Aug 10, 2009 Lisa Mettauer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I just finished reading When We Get There by Shauna Seliy. In this sad but beautiful novel, Lucas is a 13-year-old boy living in a mining town in 1974 Pennsylvania as the coal mines are beginning to shut down. But not before Lucas’ father is blown to smithereens in the King mine. Mirjana, Lucas’ mother, handles this by taking to her bed - until one day she disappears. Lucky for Lucas, his huge family of Russian, Hungarian and Croatian descent all live in Banning, and his grandmother and great-gr ...more
Jul 21, 2009 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this better than any other recent contemporary novel that I've read. It deserved more attention than it received. Her style reminds me of Margot Livesy, elegiac and beautifully crafted, with a genuinely unique perspective.
Apr 10, 2013 Eva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3-4 stars. Good, but I don't know why. The story is about a kid from an Eastern European immigrant family that lives in a mining town and is haunted by misfortune. Some kindle quotes:

Without the Croatian navigators, my father said, there would be no coal mines in America because there would be no America. So it was our own fault we had to work them. - location 176

Every morning when he was getting ready to go into the mine, my mother would lodge a piece of cotton between his pinky toe and the one
May 04, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautiful. It is a terrific debut novel. It is wry and funny and touching and full of hopes and promise. The narrator looks back on the winter he was 13 and his mother disappeared. I love this passage, about his mom and her would-be suitor, Zoli:

"Everyone said my mother looked like Hedy Lamarr. The way Zoli looked at her, you'd think she was Hedy Lamarr. He liked to say it was against the law to be as beautiful as she was, and then he'd pick up the phone and pretend to call the poli
Sarah Powley
Jun 11, 2007 Sarah Powley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People from 13 to 93
This beautiful coming-of-age story will appeal to adults, but kids will like it too because the narrator, the boy Lucas, is real: confused, determined, funny, surprising, and sometimes reckless. Wonderful characters people the story: Lucas' immigrant great-grandfather whose pear tree provides the symbolism; his grandmother with the improbable and perfect name, "Slats"; Zoli, the passionate and violent suitor who menaces Lucas as both of them search for Lucas' missing mother. The imagery is outst ...more
Bonnye Reed
Jul 03, 2013 Bonnye Reed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book, an interesting period in our history in an area- Pennsylvania - I had always imagined as fully civilized and a bit staid. You will fall in love with Lucas Lessar and his salty Aunt Slat and even his great grandfather and they will all wring your heart of tears. Shauna Seliy paints a world for us to visit, and does it beautifully. I love the way the tales from the old country become the stories and songs of every generation of this family, and how they are bound one to ...more
Dec 18, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember how I learned of this book, but I read it this week and quite liked it. It takes place in a mining town and the main character is a 13-year-old boy who has been abandoned by his mother, leaving him to live with his grandmother. In addition to a somewhat eccentric great-grandfather and a crazy ex-boyfriend of his mother's, townspeople fill out the rest of the characters. This is the author's debut novel and I'll be interested in where her career goes from here.
Dec 25, 2015 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was ok. My least favorite part was a lot of language in the book, cussing that pulled me away from the story. Going back, I might not have read it if I had known how much I would have to power through.

There were some rich and interesting cultural things, and sadness about a time of lawlessness that we usually don't have now. A lot about Russian superstitions, but also about a kid who is growing up, and sees some strength in some of those traditions.
Feb 15, 2008 Tania rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An exquisite first novel from a native Pittsburgher. Told from the perspective of a 13-year-old boy looking for his mysteriuosly missing mother as he lives in the tight-knit Eastern European community of a dying mining town in SW Pennsylvania. I read it because the author's mother was my boss at the time and was immensely relieved to find that I wouldn't have to tiptoe around my response. It really is a terrific novel. Would be fun for a book group.
AmyBeth Inverness
Dec 06, 2012 AmyBeth Inverness rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No spoilers.

I stepped a bit out of my usual genre to read this at a friend's suggestion. I'm glad I did! Primarily, the book is exceptionally well-written with a voice that draws the reader in. I felt that the author must have had actually known these people and lived in this place to bring it to life so well, though I have no idea if that is true.
Dec 04, 2012 Kay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No Offense to the author, but I hated this book. The story line was confusing until the middle of the book. I felt the characters were not well established in the first few chapters and the story line seemed to bounce back and forth in time without a true reason why. The story line was very confusing and scattered.
Oct 01, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys a well-written novel
This is a gorgeously written book, full of heart. It's about a boy growing up in a small mining town near Pittsburg, PA, and his relationships with his mother (who goes missing), his grandmother, his elderly Great-grandfather, and the rest of his close-knit community. The themes are universal and the voice is wonderful and fresh. Read it.
Dec 22, 2012 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written book. The writing was excellent and vivid to the point in which I felt like I was really there. The character development was brilliant. I could not put this book and down. I hope to see more from this author.
Mar 17, 2013 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes for this book, based on previous Goodreads reviews, but I found it to be really strange, with shallow characters and bizarre storylines. I found myself skimming at the end just to finish it. Would not recommend it!
Aug 01, 2014 Susan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read and was based upon the history of mining in small town America, in Pennsylvania. Having Croatian grandparents that came to America and a grandfather that worked in the mines upon his arrival in America, this was very touching about the many hardships many immigrants faced.
At first I could not get into this and wondered why I bought it. but i ended up looking forward to finding out what happenef. also enjoyed the family and friends and relationships they developed. if i could do half stars i wouldsay 3.5.
This was a good book--kind of like a lazy evening at home, the book was patient and laid-back, yet kept my attention.

Recommended to anyone who wants a break from fast-paced dramas, girly comedies, or heart-thumping thrillers.
Aug 22, 2007 Anya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I liked how timeless this story was. It follows a boy from an immigrant family in a poor working class town. It could be taking place now or 50 years ago, but the powerful feelings of loss and confusion that he experiences are not any less vivid. Beautifully written.
Mar 22, 2012 Barb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful writing. Just a wonderful quiet story about a boy coming of age trying to understand his family's past and find his part in all of it. Delightful characters. This is the author's debut novel and I'm looking forward to more of her work.
Nov 18, 2011 Lina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story enjoyable and keeps the readers interest,but I couldn't say it's the best thing I've ever read. Full of great motifs.
Feb 18, 2012 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The plot was just this sort of slow, meandering story. Nothing too exciting, more like a snapshot of the main character's life on winter.
Michelle Sickini
so far, so good. I've heard such wonderful reviews so i'm waiting for the story to pick up a little bit.
Sian Griffiths
Jan 07, 2013 Sian Griffiths rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-literary
Seily writes of the coal mining, immigrant culture of rural Pennsylvania with love. Her compassion for her characters breathes life into this story and kept me turning pages.
Nov 25, 2008 Stephen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes novels about family issues
The eyes of a thirteen year boy view the tribulations of a tight Eastern European family as he grows up in the coal region of greater Pittsburgh in the 1970s.
Nov 14, 2012 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I kept reading because the relationship between Lucas and his great grandfather & grandmother were interesting and heartwarming at times. A decent book but not telling anyone it's a must read.
Oct 04, 2007 PMP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A paler shade of "Housekeeping". Still, rich, textured and troubling. The most believable and unconstructed dialogue I've read in recent memory.
Oct 16, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2013-reads
I loved this charcter and the cultural depiction of his Eastern European family. Beautiful (sad) imagery and an emotional portrayal of a young boy finding his place in the world.
May 31, 2009 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful debut novel set in a small post-industrial town outside of Pittsburgh, full of folklore, ghosts, love and sorrow. The writing was beautifully crafted.
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“Love, she told me, didn't have anything to do with walking through a piece of glass.” 2 likes
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