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Once Upon a Day
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Once Upon a Day

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  2,227 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
Nineteen years ago, a famous filmmaker disappeared from Los Angeles, taking his two children, Dorothea and Jimmy, to a desolate corner of New Mexico. There he raised them in complete isolation without television, computer, radio -- not even a newspaper. Now, at twenty-three, Dorothea leaves in search of her missing brother -- and ventures into the outside world for the fir ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by Washington Square Press (first published April 1st 2006)
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Shannon Arehart
Jul 24, 2008 Shannon Arehart rated it liked it
I was so hopeful about this book. The first chapters were very interesting and had me eager to read more. The book is told from the POV of several different characters. The second is Dorothea, a young woman who grew up isolated from society. I enjoyed reading about her adventures learning about the outside world. Then the book went on to some other narrators and the backstory in CA went on way too long for me. I think it could've benefitted from some serious editing. I also found a few of the tu ...more
Dec 21, 2007 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book a "wow!" right off the bat. It's about a young woman who, along with her brother, has been raised in complete isolation by their eccentric father. When her brother leaves home and she goes after him, secrets about their past come to light, but not in the way I expected at first. There's a romantic subplot as well, where the girl meets a damaged man, which is satisfying if you're willing to deal with some serious suspension of disbelief (I was). Anyway, I really enjoyed this ...more
Sep 25, 2008 Sonja rated it liked it
I accidently stumbled upon this book (which doesn't happen often enough) and of-course read it in a heart beat (3h).

The story is not unheard of, but still interesting. It follows a couple of grown up siblings who were raised on an isolated part of land and now are discovering the world for the first time. The story also follows up on the life of their mother before they were born ( she was some famous actress) and the events that lead to their isolation.

All in all, it's not a bad story, again, j
Carol Brill
Gave this one 50 pages and just can't get into the story about a doctor turned taxi driver after a family tragedy and sister and brother survivalists experiencing the outside world for the first time.
I think I'll make a New Year's resolution to put down a book that doesn't hook me within 50 pages. Sound fair?
Feb 15, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults / Women
This was a really good and interesting book. The story is basically about a girl and brother who were raised in seclusion away from everyone by their father. The boy decides to go off into the world away from their secluded life, the sister goes after the brother some time afterwards. The sister meets a man who helps her find her brother and they learn some secrets about their past. There is romance, mystery, suspense, all rolled into this book and we learn just how far some parents are willing ...more
Jim B
Jun 21, 2014 Jim B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advisory
The audio book reader, Joyce Bean, differentiated the characters in the book well and was unobtrusive. Others probably would enjoy her reading of this book, but her plain, midwestern woman's voice gave the book a simplistic feel that misled me about how complex the story is.

The title is neatly tied in to the two story lines. I was impressed with the author's understanding of human nature, including the tendency to think negative as soon as something positive develops in a relationship. I truly a
May 29, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
An absolutely beautiful story. Hard to believe that a group of people could sustain so much damage, physically, psychologically, and emotionally and still find each other and find love in the process. The story moves back in forth in time, and slowly brings the whole narrative together into a cohesive, stunning whole. It demonstrates that trying to fully protect the ones you love from harm inflicts its own damage in so many ways. While isolation may seem to reduce the chances of outside forces d ...more
Apr 21, 2008 Bridget rated it liked it
I'd been wanting to read this book since we read The Cure for Modern Life: A Novel for book club a few years ago. A couple of the other girls read it before me to varying reviews, so I'd held off for a while.

Listen, here's the thing: the concept for this book is absurd. A famous director (on par with Spielberg and Scorcese) kidnaps his children from his (much-younger) wife, who also happens to be his protege and an up-and-coming film star. And yet, for 19 years....they cannot be found. Absurd.
Gianna Quinn
Aug 10, 2015 Gianna Quinn rated it liked it
I don't know if the poor translation is to blame, but there seemed to be something missing. I gave it a relatively good rating because as far as the story itself goes- I was amused. The technical part of it all was the source of the problem. First, as I mentioned, the translation I read was underwhelming and just... terrible. Second, I don't like it when writers change the narration. Dorothea's story is told in the first person, while the rest is told in the third person. I would've felt more co ...more
Nov 28, 2010 Heather rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: beach readers
Recommended to Heather by: Flannery
Shelves: adult
Another beach read (after my just-finished Sister's Keeper). It was nothing special but just good enough to keep things interesting and make me want to finish it. I was almost going to give it 3 stars, but then when I thought about how ridiculous the characters/plot were I decided to downgrade. (the father who has the crazy reaction to trauma and was really unrealistically weird/crazy even before that; the kids who grew up w/no social contact and then somehow were able to negotiate the world w/j ...more
May 11, 2010 Jean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Needless to say since I gave it 5 stars, I really liked this book. There are few books that I say I can't put down, but this is one that I really couldn't put down. The book had everything, mystery, romance, suspense, weirdness. Each character had a story and each story wove into and out of the next. It is a story about love; romantic, friendship and parental. The story contains minutes of violence and moments of healing; years of wondering and days of realization. There is sanity and insanity; ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Mom rated it it was ok
Intriguing premise, and a good start that caught my attention. But so much of the plot was unrealistic, and the writing was nothing special. The plot gave great opportunity for character development and psychological insights, but I didn't find them. I'm tempted to give 3 stars -- the plot was certainly interesting, but the improbable nature of the characters' actions and the lack of psychological insight was just too disappointing. I almost didn't finish the book, but kept on hoping that I'd le ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Roberta rated it did not like it
I started out thinking I was going to like this book about a wrong-side-of-the-tracks starlet who marries a big-time movie producer and has beautiful children. The husband kidnaps the children and raises them in a New Mexico "sanctuary". Some things just didn't jive for me. The daughter Dorothea seemed amazingly capable out in the big world for a girl who had been so sheltered. I found the author's style to be juvenile and awkward.
Aug 10, 2008 Robin rated it really liked it
I liked Once Upon A Day because it was a quick read and it kept me interested throughout. The idea of growing up in such isolation was fascinating and I liked how the author showed the different effects of this upbringing in the two characters. I felt like the author got tired at the end though and didn't finish the book very realistically. In summary, it was worth the read and I liked the idea of one day completely changing all of the characters' lives.
Samantha Boyette
Apr 25, 2014 Samantha Boyette rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
Considered stopping multiple times through the read. Not really the book's fault, it just wasn't the sort of book I wanted it to be. Goodreads recommended it based on another book that I love, but this wasn't much like it. So I put this in my dreaded category of "too interesting to not finish, not good enough that I'm enjoying it"
Sep 28, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
I am impressed with Tucker's writing. She weaves a compelling story of the damaging effects of fear and, conversely, how love and hope can prevail. And, yes, it is definitely fiction, and the scenarios unlikely, nonetheless a good read. I'm happy a friend passed it along.
Sarah Catherine
Jul 06, 2010 Sarah Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book about what it takes to become a family. I highly recommend it to anyone, however, do not read the back because I feel it gives away too much of the book.
Jelena Brozovic
May 23, 2015 Jelena Brozovic rated it liked it
A quick and interesting read, but some parts of the story are a little bit implausible.
Jan 22, 2017 Heather rated it liked it

Dorothea s father, like all good parents, wanted to keep his children safe. But unlike other parents, Charles O Brien believed the only way to do so was to leave everything behind, including his very successful life. In a rocky, desolate corner of New Mexico, on a thirty-five acre estate he called the Sanctuary, Charles raised the children in complete isolation, with books and encyclopedias, records and a grand piano, but no television, computer, radio, or even a newspaper. Now, Dorothea, at twe
Oct 03, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it

A fast, addicting read. Somewhat unbelievable at times, how could Charles do something like this and how could he possibly get away with it considering how famous he was? And how is Dorothea so accepting of everything so easily; her father, the modern world, a relationship with a man that she just met, the truth about her family? Nonetheless, I found each character so interesting and wanted to read more and more about each of them. It was hard not to feel the pain and the happines
Aug 23, 2011 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Tucker's outstanding novel (after Shout Down the Moon) is as structurally dextrous as it is emotionally satisfying, boasting a chorus of extraordinary voices and assured parallel plot lines separated by four decades. In the present day, 23-year-old Dorothea has left her overprotective father's secluded 35-acre New Mexico estate, called the Sanctuary, where she and her brother, Jimmy, had been sheltered from current news and all modern-day innovations. Searching for her runaway brother in St. Lou ...more
Jan 21, 2009 Gayle rated it did not like it

This novel, by Lisa Tucker, has a great "what if" premise: "What if you were raised in complete isolation, protected from every possible threat, and then suddenly had to cope with the modern world?" Of course, the plot is rather more complicated than that, and with the viewpoint shifting from time to time, it's hard to know where to start. With Stephen the cab driver? Or Dorothea, who knows only Father, Jimmy, and Grandma for as long as she can remember? Or Lucy, whose fairy-tale life took a tra
Rebecca Dougherty
Jul 17, 2010 Rebecca Dougherty rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I would normally not have given this book a second thought, but when checking wishlists, I came across is and thought I'd buy this book for one of my BC-friends. I wanted to read it before sending it out, but did not get to it last year, so (after checking wishlist again) I read it now and will be sending it to her.

What I think of this book? Well, it is not a difficult read. From the blurp on the back cover I had my reservations if I'd like it, but what is written there is not what I read in th
Goddess Of Blah
Sep 01, 2010 Goddess Of Blah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A misleading Utopia, Hollywood, a tragically broken family, heartache, mystery and a beautiful love story - this novel has much to offer.
Kindly note, however, although the plot may have Hollywood in its beginning, it is NOT a fluff read full of salacious tales, illicit relationships, glamorous women or drugs. Hollywood is NOT a central part of the plot. Ultimately the plot revolves on redemption and love, particularly forgiving the past and accepting the future.
A concerned father or a controll
Sep 02, 2008 Jennybug rated it liked it
I picked this book up at the library. I should have looked into it further. There is a lot of language in this book. I can't stand reading profanity. I think that there are just way to many words, for an author to have to settle for common swear words. There was also some violence in this book that was hard for me to read.
Although, parts of this book I loved and would have given 5 stars, and some only 1 or 2 so I settled in the middle with 3. This book contains several stories and a lot of dif
Sep 10, 2009 Jaspreet rated it liked it
A few weeks ago, I visited our local library. People had told me that it was quite lovely and had recently been renovated. I was also excited to find out if they have a book club. When I entered the building, I signed up for a library card which I always think is fun . (I know NERD alert!) I asked about the book club and found out that there is a book club which meets on the last Wednesday of the month. They also had a copy of the book which had just been returned. Even though I was not sure if ...more
Nov 09, 2013 Erika rated it really liked it
I have not been this taken by a novel in some time. Though I most certainly would not call this book "horror", there was one night where parts of the plot affected me so much that I was suspicious and nervous about every sound my apartment made. I even screeched out loud when my cat stealthily jumped on my bed.
Once Upon a Day details with how her characters deals with trauma and how a traumatic experience altered every detail of their once foreseen future.
Charles struggles with the overwhelming
Michelle Munson
Mar 01, 2009 Michelle Munson rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book becuase it started out with an interesting scenario of a father, his son and daughter living in total isolation away from all the things that can "hurt" some one in the real world, and unfolded backwards. Your immediatly questioning why they are living in such a isolated world and what could have happend to force them to live like this. You sort of go back in time with the characters to find out about thier history and past lives of thier mom and dad in order to save thier ow ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it
After reading Lisa Tucker's recent A Cure For Modern Life, I promised I would make my life happier by reading more of her novels. And I did. Once Upon A Day was my next dip into her oeuvre.

Dorothea and her brother Jimmy are the children of Charles O'Brien, and never, in Dorothea's memory, have they stepped one toe outside The Sanctuary, their beautiful, reclusive New Mexico home. Charles keeps them safe there, safe from everything from sunburns to corrupt pop culture. Finally Jimmy has had enoug
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Lisa Tucker is the author of six novels: The Winters in Bloom, coming this September; The Song Reader, Shout Down the Moon, Once Upon a Day, The Cure for Modern Life, and The Promised World.

Her books have been published in twelve countries and selected for Borders Original Voices, Book of the Month Club, the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, People magazine Critic’s Choice, Redbook Book Club, A
More about Lisa Tucker...

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“Yesterday when I got off the bus, I walked to your taxicab first. I was attracted to the black-and-white squares along the roof and the bright green paint, but otherwise, there wasn’t any reason for my choice, was there?”
“No,” he said.
“Was there a reason that you were at the bus station rather than somewhere else in the city?”
“I guess not.”
“This is the charming coincidence. When things in the world that are unconnected suddenly connect, and a pattern emerges.”
He exhaled. “But what if the pattern wasn’t what you’d call charming?”
“It’s not the pattern that’s charming,” she said. “It’s that there is a pattern at all.”
“Off course, if Steven had a wife in the attic, like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, that, I thought, would be another matter entirely. But the very idea made me laugh. His building had no attic, and his one small closet couldn't even hold a skeleton. It was too packed with clothes, his and mine.” 1 likes
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