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Within Arm's Reach

3.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  160 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Gracie McLaughlin is an advice columnist who finds it difficult to live by the advice she gives. Within Arm’s Reach follows three generations of the McLaughlins, an Irish Catholic family who is jarred into crisis by Gracie’s unexpected pregnancy. This lyrical first novel is told through six different points of view: the unmarried Gracie, her sister Lila, their parents, the ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 28th 2005 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 653)
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Apr 03, 2011 Jetreno rated it really liked it
I think that anyone with a family will enjoy this book. (I suspect that includes most of us.)
Kim and Pam and I will have a different view than people who grew up in a large family within
shouting distance. We 3 grew up with limited family that we didn't see very often. My family
moved about 500 miles away from many family members when I was about 7. My grandparents were
all deceased by the time I was about 13. Kim and Pam just don't have a lot of immediate family.
I found it very interesting to see
Sheryl Sorrentino
Nov 07, 2015 Sheryl Sorrentino rated it really liked it
This was a languid read—slow-paced but in a good way. I'd also call it "tepid", but in the way that room-temperature is just perfect. Even though I found the plot somewhat flaccid, I was repeatedly drawn back to the story, so maybe this is one of those books that doesn't need a "bombshell" to be thoroughly enjoyable. To tell you the truth, the reader's guide questions at the end left me perplexed, so maybe I just didn't "get" whatever deeper meaning lurks beneath the surface of this rather simpl ...more
Nov 28, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing
this is a writer of major talent! I got this book after I finished reading her "A Good Hard Look" which blew me away. I wasn't disappointed with Napolitano's 1st effort either. I couldn't put it down. Do yourself a favor, read both of Ann Napolitano's books. They are wonderful. Not going to put in any spoilers, just will state that this is a family story with interesting insights into the family history from the viewpoint of 6 different family members. It's not confusing, just very interesting t ...more
Laurel Wicke
Blech. Sort of boring and fuzzy like a lens out of focus. I know I was supposed to care about these dysfunctional women, but I never could figure out what the heck was really wrong with them except for a series of bad choices, and in the end, their solutions didn't seem much better. I didn't hold out much hope for them. My advice to all these characters: Read Half-Broke Horses and toughen up a bit.
Laura Harrington
Aug 06, 2012 Laura Harrington rated it liked it
What a joy to discover another book by one of my favorite authors: Ann Napolitano.
I fell into this family story and did not put the book down until I had finished it. Rich with emotion, indelible characters and hope. How I admire writers who allow their characters to grow, make mistakes and change.
LK Hunsaker
I picked this up at a library sale at some point and it's been waiting for me. I'll have to say I was surprised to find it was signed by the author, so I may not pass it along.

The story was good and I'm always glad to find female literary writers. It is lit fic and the plot was not much of a plot, which is fine and should be accepted in lit fic, but readers should be aware that it is slow paced and thoughtful. It's not a "what happens next" story. It's a "why did they make those choices" story,
Jun 10, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
I picked this book up because I so enjoyed Napolitano's second book, A Good Hard Look. This book is quite different, a contemporary story that centers around the interactions of a pretty dysfunctional family after on of its members announces she is pregnant out of wedlock. Three generations of the family contribute to the story, which is told in 6 different first person voices - grandmother, mother and father,two sisters ( who are granddaughters/daughters of the previously mentioned voices) and ...more
This is the story of the McLaughlin family. Three generations of Irish-American Catholic women. I really liked the story, but the writing at times was slow and uneventful.
Jul 12, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Imagine my surprise at going to the library to find a book to read, spending about 20 minutes, finding one on the "Summer Reads" table, bringing it home and realizing that I have read it before. What does this says about my memory, and about reading in general? And not only that, as I was walking home, I started to think about this very book, wishing I could find another like it, which I had not yet realized that I had read before! (Having read the first few paragraphs must have jogged my uncons ...more
Lee Roversi
Feb 26, 2016 Lee Roversi rated it really liked it
excellent read, if only a tad depressing. each character more dysfunctional than the next, yet somehow believable.
Apr 22, 2016 Lynne rated it it was ok
Remind me not to read family angst books.
Jul 27, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Different family members offer voices throughout this thoughtful and well-written novel. I preferred the older family members and would have liked an entire novel from the grandmother with more of her back story, which was more interesting than anyone else's. But this is a really fine novel, with every character well-meshed. A standout. I look forward to more.
Kathy Hauge
Jan 19, 2014 Kathy Hauge rated it it was ok
Classic study in dysfunctional family. They lacked models for showing any emotion and seemed to sit on the outside of life without really participating.
Beth Bataoel
Jul 19, 2012 Beth Bataoel rated it really liked it

Another great read... This is a story of an Irish family told through the perspectives of the Matriarch of the family, her daughter, granddaughters, care-giver, and her son on law. Reminds me that no matter how crazy your family or life is, at the end of the day, family is all you have!!
Oct 24, 2011 Susan added it
I read about one-fifth of this book and then decided not to continue it. I'd read A GOOD HARD LOOK quite recently and had loved it. Perhaps my expectations for this earlier novel were too high. It was alright -- just didn't grab me and excite me the way GHL did.
Dec 30, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contemp American....present day New Jersey....inner workings of large family, told in first person by several members. Don't quite know why I liked it as much as I did - probably as much for what was left unsaid than what was said.
Kim Meyers
Aug 10, 2011 Kim Meyers rated it did not like it
Story of how one single woman’s unplanned pregnancy makes each member of her family examine their own lives. The characters never extend beyond two-dimensional. The ending left me flat. I do not recommend.
Becky Moore
Jul 25, 2011 Becky Moore rated it liked it
I had a little trouble connecting with the women in the story, though she is definitely a great writer, and I did like the first person style.
Emily White
I enjoyed the book. The Catholic perspective drew me too it. The ending was a disappointment. Too many open ends.
Jan 17, 2011 Danielle rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully written and I was completely invested in all the characters. I highly recommend this book!!
Mar 16, 2013 Jarend28 rated it really liked it
a story about families and how they intertwine and neglect to talk about the important things in life
Jul 24, 2010 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
family soap-opera. i liked the first person narratives of the different characters.
Nov 25, 2010 Donnajo marked it as to-read
Hope to read it one of these days. The author's mom I knew from needlepoint.
Sep 19, 2011 Eileen rated it did not like it
It didn't hold my interest. Another one over the side!
Aletha Hickey
Apr 06, 2012 Aletha Hickey rated it it was ok
If there was a point to this book I missed it.
Shannon temple
Feb 23, 2008 Shannon temple rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jan 04, 2014 Hollis marked it as to-read
Recommended to Hollis by: Loved her other one
Shelves: not-at-lib, soon
ordered from barnes and noble
Denene marked it as to-read
May 27, 2016
Geraldine marked it as to-read
May 27, 2016
Darlene Hessney
Darlene Hessney marked it as to-read
May 26, 2016
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Ann Napolitano is the author of the novels A Good Hard Look and Within Arm’s Reach. She received an MFA from New York University; she teaches fiction writing for New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and for Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
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