Child of My Heart
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Child of My Heart

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,713 ratings  ·  227 reviews
A teenage girl, raised on the east end of Long Island among the country estates of the rich, reflects on her understanding of human nature during a seemingly idyllic summer spent with her eight-year-old cousin Daisy.
Title: Child of My Heart
Author: McDermott, Alice
Publisher: St Martins Pr
Publication Date: 2003/11/01
Number of Pages: 256
Binding Type: PAPERBACK
Library of Congr...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published November 15th 2003 by Picador : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1984)
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The Lovely Bones by Alice SeboldThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerAfter You've Gone by Alice AdamsCaroline's Daughters by Alice AdamsFamilies and Survivors by Alice Adams
My Name is Alice
20th out of 54 books — 13 voters
The House on Prospect by Bernadette  WalshBrooklyn by Colm TóibínGalway Bay by Mary Pat KellyCharming Billy by Alice McDermottThe Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury
Irish-American Experience
47th out of 49 books — 31 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,632)
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Meghan
Mar 23, 2007 Meghan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: storytellers.
This book is superb, and no other word can even remotely describe how beautiful it was. I have never met a character who had the ability to tell stories as the girl did in Child of My Heart. She is truly wonderful.
Felice
It isn’t uncommon for a teenage girl to experience an intense friendship with a younger child; to have an overwhelming affection for a living doll. This relationship is based on companionship, mothering and anxiety about growing up. This type of relationship is the basis of Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott.


Theresa is a parent approved Pied Piper in her 1960’s Hampton neighborhood. Her working class parents moved to this affluent area when Theresa was a child in hopes that access to a more c...more
snackywombat (v.m.)
Aug 27, 2007 snackywombat (v.m.) rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Alice McDermott fans only
Try as I might, Alice McDermott's writing often leaves me cold. I never love, love it but find the characters engaging and the prose really pretty. But then the novel ends and I'm always like, meh. If a good book were a sunset, it'd be the kind that lingers in the sky well past nighttime to give the horizon a purplish tinge. It stays with you. But the story of the perfectly beautiful, perfectly well-mannered and responsible Theresa, beloved by all the toddlers and pets of her small Hamptons town...more
Judy
I have been aware of Alice McDermott for several years but this is the first of her novels I've read. It is her fifth novel out of seven and I was entranced by it.

Theresa is an only child with older parents, who have moved from Queens to the smallest house in an upscale vacation town on the eastern end of Long Island. The parents decided to raise their daughter among the rich in the hopes that she will make a good marriage and improve her lot in the world. That, to me, is such an Irish feudal...more
Johnsergeant
Downloaded from Audible.com

Narrator: Sheryl Bernstein
Publisher: Macmillan Audio, 2003
Length: 7 hours and 52 min.

Publisher's Summary
In Alice McDermott's new work of fiction a woman recalls her bittersweet 15th summer. The beautiful child of older parents, raised on the eastern end of Long Island among the summer houses of the rich, Theresa is the town's most sough-after babysitter - cheerful, poised, an effortless storyteller, a wonder with children and animals. Among her charges this fateful sum...more
Jennifer
I can't remember why I picked up this book (audibly speaking, that is) but I'm glad I did. It's not the kind of thing I normally read, but I really enjoyed it. The story is about a 15-year-old girl (Theresa) who is just coming into her womanhood, and her 8-year-old cousin who comes to visit for a summer. Unfortunately, the cousin (Daisy) has a fatal disease, and it is Theresa's love for her which causes this disease to be discovered too late. Because Theresa is determined to give Daisy a lovely...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Alice McDermott is a writer akin to Stewart O'Nan and Anita Brookner whose work is quiet and slow. McDermott won the National Book Award for Charming Billy and Child of My Heart is worthy of such recognition as well.

The narrator, a beautiful girl whose parents have moved to the Hamptons and encouraged her to care for the children of and to do pet sitting for rich and powerful summer visitors, hope that she will make a "good" marriage, something not quite as peculiar in the early 1960s as it seem...more
Maam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maya Lang
A mesmerizing, hypnotic novel that plunges you into a teenage girl's summer with her younger charges. I felt I had lived this summer or perhaps dreamed it; Alice McDermott is so good at evoking characters and place that her novels seep into your brain, tricking you into thinking they are the product of your own imagination. Here is prose at its evocative best, conjuring a wistful, nostalgically tinged summer ripe with details and memorable characters. I will remember not only Daisy in her shoes...more
Denise
I could not reconcile the glowing reviews on this book's cover by Anna Quindlen, Margaret Atwood and the NY Times Book Review with my own experience of it. The plot was almost nonexistent: a teenager babysits for the summer. We are left with the development of relationships, but even those don't materialize. For example, I could've used a little more of an explanation about why the main character decided to lose her virginity to a philandering septagenarian. McDermott is an award-winning author,...more
Rebecca
Impeccably written, as expected. A coming-of-age/loss of innocence story of a young girl in charge of her cousin for the summer. It's sweet, yet rather haunting, with many layers beneath the seemingly mundane details of what turns out to be a deeply meaningful summer. A moving read.
Kyli
This book was really entrancing - the writing style was so detailed and beautiful. Theresa, the main character, was so observant and articulate. This is one of those novels that really makes you think about the world and the people in it.

At just 15, Theresa is basically a mother to all of the neighborhood kids. Her parents see her blossoming beauty as a means to wealth and success, so they immediately set her up to work as a nanny for their rich neighbors. The story follows her as she goes from...more
Gwen Haaland
This beautifully written book started out with so much potential and draws you in from the start. It is the story of a young gifted "super-nanny" with a magnetic personality, who truly cares about her little charges. Theresa brings some much-needed magic into childrens lives and also has exceptional abilities with animals; both children and animals are drawn to her. Many of her young charges are the children of eastern Long Island's wealthy summer residents, but some are paradoxically neglected...more
L.
Had I been reading this book instead of listening to it, I might not have finished it. But listening to it slowed it down to a proper pace, made it much more consistent with the story.

The story: Set in East Hampton, Long Island in the 50s or 60s, the main character is a 15-year-old girl who is very self-contained and sure of herself. She's in great demand not only for her superb babysitting and petsitting skills, but because she is beautiful. Very aware of that fact, somewhat snobby about those...more
Lilian
This is a nice coming-of-age story. I particularly liked how McDermott developed the lead character; although she is an only child and also extraordinarily pretty, somehow her parents are able to raise her to be a good person.

I'm really curious as to why the story came about from the character's perspective. I imagine she's already an adult, possibly has a family and children of her own. Is she now part of the social circles her parents wanted her to ascend to? What made her reminisce about that...more
Harriet
Gorgeous, supple, deft work of fiction -- a cousin of the other McDermott novels I know, and yet utterly in its own world, brilliant in creating this world. What McDermott does so, so well is something so hard to do -- she creates a first person voice of a 15 year old girl who resists spilling all her thoughts. Always there's a careful holding back, so that a reader moves closer, closer, trying to listen even more carefully and to understand what's not being said. How this central character move...more
Annette
Even though each section (there were no defined chapter breaks) was basically the same thought over and over again, the author kind of pulled it off and had me hanging on enough to somehow make me want to keep reading. The main character, a teenager, is portrayed as the most sought-after babysitter and dog walker of all time - that's all she did, every single day. Common sense seemed to have eluded her - between not addressing the fact that her cousin very obviously needed medical attention and,...more
M
This was ok - decent writing, but no real plot.
COMH is about a young teen named Theresa who spends her summer babysitting and dog walking in the hopes of one day snagging a rich husband. Her sickly cousin Daisy comes to visit her and the two spend the summer together. That's it. Seriously.
On a sentence level this was pretty good - nice turns of phrase and all that. But the plot was thin at best and the overall execution lacking - Theresa was a rather narrow character, her parents basically non e...more
Nicole
May 31, 2008 Nicole rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nannies who hated The Nanny Diaries
I want to call this one a beach book...but lechery is not your typical lounging on the beach book topic. So I'm at a loss. I love how McDermott treats children in this story. The babysitter character is almost magical, and I think it takes a certain kind of magic to reach kids on their level without patronizing them or feeling embarrassed for your self. So well done on that score. But a couple of beautiful lines and a passion for childhood innocence is not enough...at least not in this case. A d...more
Beth
An odd book. I liked the narrator even when I couldn't relate to her--a fifteen-year-old girl who knows she's beautiful and enjoys the power she has over middle-aged and older men she babysits for. In some ways the book travels well-worn paths--teenage naivete, older men lusting after young, nubile girls, teenage girl who's wonderful with children and animals, very feminine, uses her charms, etc. On the other hand, the author's weaves themes of social class throughout the story quite effectively...more
HeavyReader
From the beginning (the first page? the first sentence?) I did not want to stop reading this book, even for a minute. I didn’t want to go to work. I didn’t want to go to sleep. I only wanted to read this book.

It is so beautifully written. Each sentence is lovely. Sometimes the sentences are complicated. Sometimes I had to read the same sentence more than once, which was ok with me. I didn’t mind doing a bit of work in order to understand what McDermott was trying to convey.

This is a true coming...more
Angela
I listened to this book on audio tape. It is about a young girl whose parents move to a wealthy section of Long Island so their daughter will be exposed to people with money and perhaps have better future opportunities. Theresa works for several families as babysitter and dog walker and also takes care of her young cousin who is visiting for the summer. The book is extremely well written and I loved reading about Theresa' relationship with her cousin, the other children, and the animals. The way...more
Michelle
Subtle. Sometimes hard for me to believe the voice of narrator as a young girl. Events of the book frightening--illness, death, seduction--but rendered almost untouchable by the narrator's innocent indifference.
Brandee
I had high hopes for this book after reading "Someone", to which I gave a rare 5-star rating. "Child of my Heart" was good...but not that good. I had trouble giving it a meaningful review because I felt like I wasn't really "there", even though I read it fairly quickly. It was dreamy, gauzy, fuzzy, and just not "real" enough for me to really delve in and be affected. Parts of it were very beautiful, especially the descriptions of caring for Flora. The whole artist-tryst thing was baffling to me...more
Cathy Hause
I adored this book which is told through the adolescent eyes of Theresa, the only child of middle class parents who have moved to the Hampton’s to offer their daughter what they hope will be a better life. The story takes place during the summer visit of Theresa’s adored younger cousin, Daisy Mae. Theresa who has one foot in childhood and one on the cusp of adulthood…observes and comments on the world around her. She sees her world with the wonder filled eyes of a child and the adults who inhabi...more
Mimi
lovely writing, lyrical book, sometimes it almost hurt to read it and I had to stop for awhile.
Erin
Love Alice McDermott, loved this book. Beautifully written. I felt like I was floating along on the words. You almost ache with the emotions that the setting and the character evoke. The pace is perfect - but talk about wanting more! I wish for 400 more pages so I can find out how the story really ends.

If you want to completely lose yourself in a book, this is the one. My fondness for coming-of-age stories aside, this story is mesmerizing. You'll fall in completely and live inside 1960s Long Is...more
Margaret
3.5
Golden girl, teenager Teresa has a gift for handling animals and children. They all love her. And in the small community in the Hamptons where she lives with her working parents, she is never short of children to watch and dogs to walk. Especially this particular summer.

She is turning from girl to woman. And although she is mature for her age, she is still fresh and ready to blossom. This is the summer where difficult things happen, where things will scar her sensitive heart and teach her ha...more
Sarah
What a disappointment! Based on its description, this book seemed tailor made for me. Alas! It did not live up to my expectations.
To begin with, I was put off by the matter-of-fact manner in which Theresa declares herself to be pretty. I have no tolerance for braggers and, admittedly, not being one myself, am prejudice against the "beautiful people." Theresa's self-diagnosed beauty aside, I simply found it difficult to buy her as the "voice" of a fifteen-year-old girl. Her actions and thoughts...more
Ron Charles
Call it "Reviving Ophelia - Again." In 1994, Mary Pipher galvanized the nation with her exposé of the poisonous social system girls enter when they become teenagers. This year, it's the novelists' turn, and their descriptions of adolescence are even more provocative than Pipher's psychological study.

Alice McDermott's "Child of My Heart" is the third stunningly well-written novel this year to show a teenage girl confront challenges no one should ever have to endure. Her book follows the wrenching...more
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Alice McDermott (born June 27, 1953) is Johns Hopkins University's Writer-in-Residence. Born in Brooklyn, New York, McDermott attended St. Boniface School in Elmont, Long Island, NY [1967], Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead NY [1971], the State University of New York at Oswego, receiving her BA in 1975, and later received her MA from the University of New Hampshire in 1978.

She has taught at the UC...more
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