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Goldengrove

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,190 Ratings  ·  461 Reviews
After the sudden death of her beloved older sister, thirteen-year-old Nico finds her life on New England's idyllic Mirror Lake irrevocably altered. Left alone to grope toward understanding, she falls into a seductive, dangerous relationship with her sister's boyfriend. Over one haunted summer, Nico faces that life-changing moment when children realize their parents can no ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published September 16th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
Aug 12, 2015 karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

and here is a perfect example of why readers' advisory is so, so tricky, and why i am devoting my life to perfecting the process.

i first came across this book when i was doing an assignment for my readers' advisory class a couple of years ago. my goal was to find a read-alike for The God of Animals, which i had just read and unexpectedly loved.

for the assignment, i used many different readers' advisory resources in order to come up with suitable read-alikes. after using NYPL's "fiction connecti
...more
Amelia
Feb 10, 2010 Amelia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I read books with really poetic language and it irritates me, because I feel like the author's trying too hard (example: Echo by Francesca Lia Block). Although Prose's language in this book was indeed poetic, it wasn't overly so, and that's what pulled me in.

I liked this, although it was quite different from the satire I'm used to from Prose. Didn't know what I'd think of it; picked this up on sale at a bookstore that was going out of business. It had this creepy effect on me. It made
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Yang Liu
After reading two other reviews on Goldengrove, one a five star review, the other a two star review, I was surprised to find both reviews shared much of the same sentiments and echoed many of my opinions regarding the book. I really had mixed feelings about the novel. On one hand, I felt a bit disappointed that the book's storyline did nothing to distance itself from the countless other novels about death and tragedy. On the other hand, Francine Prose's powerful writing style was able to draw in ...more
Richard
Aug 02, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in two days and enjoyed it. It's fast paced and well written.

Goldengrove centres around the accidental death of Margaret and the effect upon her family and boyfriend. When Nico, Margaret's sister starts meeting Aaron her sister's boyfriend they become 'dangerously' but understandably close. That Nico is only thirteen and Aaron seventeen made me a little squeamish but I suppose it was meant to.

Probably more YA than an adult novel.
Lara
If you've looked at this book (or the picture of it), you will likely agree with me that this is a book that begs you to read it. That is, if you’re the type (as I am) to judge a book by its cover. It’s fascinating to me how intriguing a picture of a boat and a lake can be.

I’m sure you’re wondering, then, if it lives up to its cover. After a bit of internal debate, I think it does. Why the debate? Because the book is so damn sad, it’s hard to admit that it was a lovely read.

Goldengrove is the s
...more
Susan
In a word, meh - by the way, is "meh" a word? The prose is beautiful and haunting - Goldengrove is an extremely well-written novel. Why then the meh? Well, I just couldn't manage to get involved with any of the characters. Consequently in the end, I was completely unmoved by their story. The plot is bland and just plain disappointing, and the characters were flat as pancakes. Goldengrove completely failed to hit the mark with me.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a terrible book. Gracefully and elegan
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Jo
May 24, 2014 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is interesting the effect of books such as 'Gone girl', 'Lovely Bones' etc have had in that when a book features a death in the early pages, you begin to immediately look for the angle, the secret killer, the mysterious element that will gradually be revealed. In 'Goldengrove' Francine Prose has simply written a book about a death, its effects on a family and on those closest to the one who died. Towards the end of the novel a more sinister element does creep in but this is no whodunnit, ther ...more
Kristiana
Mar 29, 2010 Kristiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I recommended this for book club, and I am fairly certain most people did not like it. I have always read sad books and I am quite fond of them. There were really great random quotes that made me stop and think.

I'm glad the narrator established firmly at the end that she is an adult looking back at the event, it makes the language and beautiful writing seem more plausible, instead of the statements of a 13 year old. The audio narrator's voice is lovely and soothing and perfectly suited for the
...more
Susanburton
Jan 29, 2009 Susanburton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel of coming to terms with grief told by a thirteen year old named Nico. One afternoon her older sister and she were floating in their boat on the lake which they did often. Her sister dove in and due to a congenital heart failure drowned. Her parents were so grief stricken as was Aaron, her sister’s boyfriend that she had to navigate through her mourning alone.
Her struggles, decisions, indecisions, hopes, and fears are all explicitly told in this touching and healing story. I would
...more
Lindsey
Jun 06, 2010 Lindsey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a waste of my time. I feel that all books bring a memory or a thought that is worth digging up from your past. This brought nothing. It was completely a disappointment at the end of the book.

The book is about a young girl named Margaret that goes through the horrible experience of having her older sister die. Her older sister was apparently the favorite. Her sister dies around page 20 and for the next 250 pages (luckily its a short read) Margaret is grieving and getting through it basic
...more
Rachel
Jul 11, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful wonderful wonderful book about a family dealing with an unexpected and life-shattering lost.

I picked this galley up at BEA, and it's been sitting unread ever since. The title didn't do it for me, neither did the jacket. What a big mistake on my part because Goldengrove is gorgeous. Writing that's effortless, pacing that's perfect, and characters that make your heart break. Smart, lovely and a little bit brilliant.
Larry Hoffer
Jul 25, 2011 Larry Hoffer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really powerful, well-written book. Just when I thought this book would be another coming-of-age/family deals with grief novel, Francine Prose had some great tricks up her sleeve. Terrific characters and the whole story was very compelling, plus the backdrop of Mirror Lake and the small town they lived in were really evocative.
Liz
Jan 10, 2009 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say this was one powerful book. Spanning the months after a beloved older sister's death, this novel focusses on the reactions of Nico and her parents to the unimaginable--life without Margaret. I found the characterization rich, the language and style sophisticated and I felt, quite palpably, the presentation and handling of grief. Having lost a parent less than a year ago, this book, and the characters' struggles to carry on, really moved me. For some reason, everything that happened ...more
Shawna
Feb 05, 2009 Shawna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this in that it was informative. I kept reading because I genuinely wanted to know what happened. It did pull me along, but I felt that nearly every critical plot point was reached and then sort of passed over. There was no satisfaction from the story's climax. I was greatly disappointed repeatedly . . . But I couldn't not finish.

What I learned from this was how young people internalize loss, and how wrong things can go when they're left to deal with it on their own. I'm not going to pu
...more
Kolleen
Goldengrove was a strange little book. It is about Margaret, a 17 year old girl who dies one day of a heart condition as she is swimming. She leaves her family and boyfriend to deal with her death. Throughout the book, we see the way people seem to drift through death and grief and deal with (or not deal with) it in their own ways. The book is sad and real, that is, until the weird relationship between Aaron, Margaret's boyfriend and Nico, her younger (13 year old) sister begins to develop.

I've
...more
Jenni Lou
Goldengrove by Francine Prose is a story set amid the landscape of immeasurable loss and grief. Its thirteen year old protagonist, Nico, attempts to comes to terms with the loss of her older sister, Margaret, as her parents fold into themselves as they, too, seek solace from the pain.

I had never heard of Francine Prose before. But she’s written something like 15 books. I have no idea why she has eluded me. Especially because she is quite simply, amazing. Her prose is so fluid and haunting with a
...more
Greta Logan
Dec 04, 2013 Greta Logan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is a book that makes me wish Goodreads had a three-and-a-half-stars option, because although I don't think this book deserves four stars, it definitely deserves more than three.

"Goldengrove's" best quality is the writing. Francine Prose obviously understands what works in writing, and she manages to bring across a very powerful voice and unique style in this book. The imagery and descriptions are just gorgeous, quite frankly. It almost makes me feel like I'm in a half-real, half-mystical w
...more
Susan
Oct 09, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in loss
Recommended to Susan by: EW
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tammy
Mar 16, 2010 Tammy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first two or three chapters were incredibly beautiful. The imagery dazzled, the plot staging complemented those images, and the characters and their relationships were real and believable. This part of the story could stand as a five-star short story.
Then the novel enters a sort of murkiness that takes over for the rest of the story. The depictions of the parents, Aaron, Elaine, cease to be startling fresh characters but rather lapse into typecasts. The plot loses momentum, some details and
...more
Jeanne
Oct 09, 2008 Jeanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who have lost a sibling; young adults
Recommended to Jeanne by: Booklist
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?

For those of you familiar with the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, you know that this novel is not going to be a happy one. But please don’t let that stop you from reading Prose’s latest; it is certainly worth your time.

Thirteen-year-old Nico is devastated when her older sister, Margaret, drowns in the lake by their home. Margaret was her best friend; Margaret was her world.

Like many others in the same situation, Nico struggles with her grief
...more
Kelly
Jun 04, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, favorites
A coming-of-age story about 13-year-old Nico, who spends the summer grieving after her older sister drowns while taking a leisurely swim in the lake. Nico must cope mostly on her own, as her parents are caught up in their own grief. The only person who she feels can understand is her sister's boyfriend, and they thus begin a risky, complicated "friendship". The author did a great job of getting inside Nico's head, and I felt as if I were seeing the world through her eyes. This is one of those bo ...more
Kathy
Feb 04, 2009 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of thirteen year old Nico, who loses her older sister Margaret to drowning dragged me in and wouldn't let me go. How Margaret's death affects their parents and Margaret's boyfriend Aaron is the backdrop for Nico's story of personal exploration, growing maturity and the eventual conquering of the will to live over the pull of wanting to follow your loved one into the dark.

I was moved by Prose's, well, prose, and couldn't put this story down. Each character was vital and well-drawn, and
...more
Pam
Nov 11, 2008 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
For some readers, the saddest part of this tale would be the parents & 13yr old sister floating along in grief after the accidental death of their 17yr old daughter/sister. And yes, the details of how survivors manage to get through each day following a stunning loss were sometimes excruciating to read. The book concludes years later when the impact of Margaret's death is long diminished -- life DOES goes on. As it should, but it was still very poignant that her impact on her loved ones' liv ...more
Erica
Dec 01, 2008 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book until the end. It's the story of a girl named Nico whose sister drowns (this happens at the very beginning), and the grief that consumes her and her parents afterward. She begins spending time with her sister's boyfriend with unfortunate results.

Beautiful writing, wonderful portrait of grief, and then the end . . . without giving anything away, I'll just say that the author absolves everyone of their sins of grief except the boyfriend, and it feels gross and unfair, and
...more
Jud Barry
There were lots of good things about this book, in which (mostly) a 13-14 year old girl has to come to grips with the loss of her older sister and the boyfriend she left behind. I even copied out one passage--about how omnipresent someone can be, even when he/she is absent, how we carry on an internal dialogue with that person. But somehow the dead sister's boyfriend's weirdness--even though he was *supposed) to be weird--came across as a not-so-compelling weirdness.

My first book by her. I want
...more
Terri
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Someone named Francine PROSE needs to grow up and become on author! Good thing she did.

Goldengrove takes place in a small town on a lake. Francine Prose is very insightful; she knows how people think.

'"Smoke this.' She smiled and gave me a funny salute she'd copied from Ginger Rogers. Then she dove into the water." And with that, Nico loses her only sister, her only sibling. Margaret,the talented, beautiful, svelte one leaves Nico, the nerdy, plain, plump one behind.

This is a story of what appea
...more
Kerry
Jan 14, 2015 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Francine Prose, and her Reading Like a Writer is as masterfully written as it is insightful. And the writing found in Goldengrove has that same attention to detail. It captures the frame of mind and internal dialogue of a 13-year-old girl grieving for her older sister in a fully credible manner.

However, this book is slow, and it seems to dwell too much on the grief process. While it's true that is what this book is about, it seems to beat the reader over the head with the theme. Not th
...more
Autumn
Aug 11, 2015 Autumn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Francine Prose book I've read. In the past I've seen her as a solid author of literary fiction, similar to Joyce Carol Oates with maybe less horror thrown in.

Goldengrove tells the story of a family suffering from a tragic loss: Margaret, the 16 year old elder sister, tragically drowns in Mirror Lake, which the family lives on in upstate New York. This is largely a coming of age story of Nico, her younger sister who, at 13, begins spending time with Margaret's former boyfriend
...more
Bronwen
Really, really sad but really good, too. Francine Prose writes with vivid clarity about grief and her prose is more like poetry with intense feeling and startling sensuality. The story is about how a pre-teen girl deals after her older sister dies in a boating accident. It transports you back to the age of 13, hauntingly, creepily and somehow comfortingly, too.
Roberta
Dec 22, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous writing, many stunning phrases that enhance, not overwhelm, the narrative. The portrayal of grief in the different characters feels realistic, including the creepy parts. I'm old enough to remember incidents in my life or the lives of friends like those described in this novel - not exactly, but close enough.
I had trouble putting this book down.
The only other Prose novel I'd read before this is Hungry Hearts, amazing in another way, a hilarious, magical story about a Yiddish theatre com
...more
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Francine Prose (born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American novelist. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. She has sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own Award, and her novel Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is now teaching at Bard College.

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“I waited for dawn, but only because I had forgotten how hard mornings were. For a second I'd be normal. Then came the dim awareness of something off, out of place. Then the truth came crashing down and that was it for the rest of the day. Sunlight was reproof. Shouldn't I feel better than I had in the dead of night.” 132 likes
“The mystery of death, the riddle of how you could speak to someone and see them every day and then never again, was so impossible to fathom that of course we kept trying to figure it out, even when we were unconscious.” 79 likes
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