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3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  1,326 Ratings  ·  290 Reviews

Julia Lambert, an artist, is spending the summer in her old Maine farmhouse. During a visit from her elderly parents, she hopes to mend complicated relationships with her domineering father, a retired neurosurgeon, and her gentle mother, who is descending into the fog of Alzheimer's. But a shattering revelation intrudes: Julia's son, Jack, has spiraled into heroin addictio

Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Picador (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ron Charles
May 01, 2016 Ron Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cost will get tagged immediately as that story about heroin addiction, but what's best about Roxana Robinson's scarily good novel has nothing to do with opiates. Oh, she's done her homework well, and she writes about every aspect of the drug -- its use, its effects and especially its personal, financial and spiritual costs -- with flesh-itching precision. But if heroin is what gives this novel its rush, Robinson's sensitivity to family relations is what makes it so compelling.

Most of the story t
Feb 08, 2014 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of the most beautifully written, sad, troubling books I have read in a long time. This is the story of a family: a woman, Julia Lambert, a divorced mother of two grown sons; Julia's ex, Wendell (both Julia and Wendell, are professors at eastern universities); Julia's aging parents, both beginning to lose mental and physical capacities; Julia's somewhat estranged sister, Harriet; and the two sons, Stephen who is making plans to attend law school, and Jack, a musician and happy-go ...more
I thought a good chunk of this novel bordered on melodramatic. It was no doubt a adequate depiction of heroine addiction and how it effects the entire family, but so much of the novel felt cliche. It's new fiction, it just came out 2 weeks ago. Had I read this novel 6 years ago (before addiction was such a hot topic in literature, film and television) I might have had a better tolerance for the story. But the interventionist, the concerned parents who react with anger, guilt and sadness, the bro ...more
Dec 26, 2008 jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the story of a family like many others. A family of two sisters and a brother, grown up, with spouses and children. A family being torn apart, divided against itself, by many things, including:

1) Rapidly deteriorating mental conditions of both parents - a tragedy in itself.

2) A rift between two sisters, misunderstandings that have deepened into resentment and division

3) A divorce between Julia, the protagonist and elder sister, and her husband Wendell, resulting in Wendell's remarri
K.D. Absolutely
May 14, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents With Young Children
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010 edition)
Shelves: 501
The writing style:
The most amazing aspect of this novel is its writing. The use of short sentences not only gave the narration its rhythmic flow that is akin to a poem. This rhythmic flow also somehow mimics the thumps of an emotional human heart. The plot is about an extended family whose youngest member, 22-year old Jack, is a heroin addict. The narration is full of human emotions. Out of the 99 books (belonging to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die - 2010 edition) that I read so far, th
Jan 10, 2010 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-writers
First-snow-of-the-year afternoon reading, a b-day gift from my husband, who heard the author reading from her book on NPR. It's a quick read, despite its 500-page length. Sort of a later-in-life Jodi Piccoult type novel, where tragedy destroys a previously happy family.

I found myself curiously untouched by the characters, however. Primarily, I think, because the heroin-addicted Jack, is not developed beyond his addiction, so it's difficult for a reader to care.

The book is heavily weighted toward
Lauren Albert
Jan 23, 2010 Lauren Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Some reviews refer to this family as dysfunctional. But what is so tragic about the story is that the family is normal, that such things can happen in any family. Love and resentment. Love and anger. Love and guilt. What family does not alternate at times between these feelings? Julia Lambert, an artist and mother, says at one point in the novel about being an artist, "You had to find it yourself and then make it your own. You had to create your own balance, your own certainty. No one else knew ...more
What is the cost of family connections? What is the cost of severing them? Julia Lambert asks these questions during a traumatic time in her family’s lives.

An artist and professor, Julia departs to her summer home in Maine, to try and connect with her tyrannical father, a former surgeon now retired, and her aging mother, suffering from signs of early Alzheimer’s disease. In her father’s presence, Julia feels anger. Constantly. She tries to delve into it, to understand it. She remembers moments
Jan 18, 2009 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was completely absorbing to me. While the central character, Julia, was confronting the issue of her young son's heroin addiction, the book also examined how family crisis bring to light other issues. Julia is spending the summer in her well-loved and well-worn summer home overlooking a cove on the Maine coastline. Her time there is interrupted when her older son confides that he believes his brother is a junkie. Julia rallies her family around Jack and as they gather to intervene they ...more
Kate S
Jul 16, 2013 Kate S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subject of this book hit far too close to home. I found the flawed characters believable and, while maybe not likeable, understandable. The chapters shared from Jack's point of view were invaluable to my own life while the sections dealing with Edward and Katharine were less personally applicable. I can understand how the word 'melodrama' would be associated with this story, but I also think families going through any kind of stressor of this level deal with everyday matters differently. Thi ...more
Carol Balawyder
Jun 22, 2014 Carol Balawyder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Roxana Robinson’s character, Julia, knows how chemical addiction works. “She’d read widely about heroin. She’d scoured the internet. She’d read books. She knew heroin addiction was nearly a national epidemic. She knew about the addiction of the young, educated middle class. She knew about distribution by gangs, she knew what countries specialized in it, what it was called on the street. She knew about tying off and booting up. ..” She knows all this because she is trying to save Jack, her heroin ...more
Andy Katin
Mar 22, 2009 Andy Katin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great novel about a middle aged painter who is struggling with her adult son's heroin descent into addiction. The focus also is generally on family dynamics between her and her ex-husband, her and her aging parents and her other son (a naturalist working with lions in the pacific west) and his feelings about his addict brother.
Sep 17, 2008 Britta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"Boys were sweeter, really, than girls; there was something tender and vulnerable about them. Girls were born with a kind of armor, some kind of knowledge, some connectedness to the world, that boys never acquired."

...and that was the most redeeming thing about this book...
Dec 15, 2012 Ellen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: addiction
Read like the author did all her research in the library and had never had an actual interaction with anyone impacted by addiction. Also had a totally ridiculous scene in which the two sons actually become briefly "lost at sea" which was the most pained metaphor ever.
Beth Rear
Dec 07, 2008 Beth Rear rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
this was a really good book about how a son's addiction to heroin wreaks havoc on every member of the family
Aug 04, 2016 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"What was the cost of these connections, the cost of severing them?" from "Cost: A Novel" by Roxana Robinson

"She felt grief for her own cold, unfathered childhood, and rage at herself, for making it last so long, and for holding fast to resentment, and for never becoming better than she was." from "Cost: A Novel" by Roxana Robinson

"You could only be sure you would never be free of what had happened." from "Cost: A Novel" by Roxana Robinson

"What should you do, when you saw something going wrong?
A sincere look at how an addict’s behavior affects the entire family.

Julia’s son is a heroin addict. She enlists the help of her sister, ex—husband, eldest son, and parents to help save Jack from drug use that usually ends in death. I felt the information on some of the supporting characters was unnecessary: the mother’s early stage Alzheimer’s disease and the sister/father conflict was superfluous background. I wanted to learn more about how the disease shaped the eldest son’s life.

Some of th
Nov 14, 2008 Fredsky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents, kids.
I'm rating this book as a 4.75. It's excellent. And important.

This novel tells the story of a family, maybe a bit more complicated than most American families, and what happens as the youngest son is revealed to be addicted to heroin. It's a hard and troubling look into the the life of a junkie. The young son, Jack, wants nothing to do with family. He wants their money, but that's all. His world has narrowed down to heroin and how to pay for it. He pays.

His family's life, though, has expanded tr
Jan 03, 2012 Duntay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
I had the library specially order this for me -as they could not get it from inter library loan they actually purchased it. I feel slightly guilty inflicting it on other people when I return it to the library.

It is pretty much a classic what-seems-like-it-will-tear-the-family-apart-actually- brings-it-closer story. It could have been a powerful story about addiction and how an entire family becomes caught in it's vortex. But somehow it wasn't. Partially it is because it takes place against a bac
Cathleen Bell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leanne Hunt
Apr 07, 2013 Leanne Hunt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
This well-researched, intimate novel on heroine addiction was an absorbing read. The author takes an extremely close-up view of how a child's habit affects an ordinary family, weaving highly believable stories about each character around the troubling events of a single year. We learn about an artist's inspiration and vision for her painting, a neurosurgeon's recurring memories of his failures over the years, an ageing woman's awareness of encroaching Altzheimers disease, and a brother's inner c ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Monique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow this book was so powerful on a whole other level..the writing was phenomenal and I found myself rereading several passages just in awe of how she put the words together and made such a vivid and fascinating feel these characters, their pain, confusion, desperation and hopelessness and it is so real..The story of this family in their summer house in Maine is anything but ordinary as everyone has their secrets and internal struggles and the author takes you into the hearts and min ...more
Jul 14, 2008 ducky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with drug addicts in their family
Recommended to ducky by: Wall Street Journal
This book is about a young heroin addict, told from the perspective of an omniscient narrator who delves into the mind of the addict, his brother, mother and grandfather. It explores several questions about life but does not answer any of them, which means it is probably a good book club candidate. The plot is uneventful and the book focuses instead on the characters’ inner thoughts and histories as well as the complex relationships amongst family members. Several questions are brought to the re ...more
Aug 21, 2009 Jamie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 25, 2012 Scott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The term that I think best describes this novel, a chronicle of one family coping with the heroin addiction of its youngest son, is self-conscious. The author's effort shows in every part of it—the prose, the dialogue, the premise—and as I read I couldn't shake the feeling that it all felt a little forced.

Take the subject matter: addiction. Surely that brings with it enough drama to sustain 400 pages. But the author introduces an Alzheimer's subplot for good measure, as well as infidelity, a pot
Aug 03, 2016 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved, loved, loved this book. Love her writing style! Lovely gritty story of a family in crisis. My favorite quotes were:
Pg 580
She wondered if all this was different for men. Did they feel it, this endless impulsion toward virtue, the sense of obligation? She thought they did not. What a relief not to have this endless beat in your head, the fear of making mistakes, of letting people down, of disappointing them and the world. Did men not have it? Was it only women who were so intent on being go
Sep 16, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for an absorbing read
Recommended to Beth by: Nancy Vuolo
This book was a frightening introduction to the world of heroin and addiction. Sounds depressing enough, until dementia is added to the mix. It takes a skilled author to be able to handle heavy subjects adeptly, and Robinson is up to the challenge. The charachters are well drawn, and she avoided the pat ending that I was expecting.

The elusive fifth star is withheld because she might have gone slightly overboard on the development of charachter. Harriet was unneccessary, and the story could have
Aug 12, 2008 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is painful and yet true so true about families and the twist ties that bind them/us. a divorced artist, her aging parents, her confused son, and then the younger son who is addicted to heroin. the family, who do not speak the word love, let alone allow each other to show it, plans an intervention and then has to deal with what that means, which is not to blame or judge (not so easy...) and the author, who wrote a very good biography of georgia o'keeffe, goes into each person's state of ...more
Jan 27, 2011 Nenette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main focus of the story was on how a family was affected by a son who was a drug addict. The family, scattered as they were, was still a family after all, pulled together and pulled apart by a crisis, through all their oddities and disagreements. I applaud the author for her ability to present the feelings of the many characters and make the reader feel these for themselves. The feelings and musings of these characters go beyond what the addiction has brought on to them; they went back to be ...more
Kate Pierson
Oct 05, 2008 Kate Pierson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers interested in: family relationships, drug addiction, and a good sense of place
Very well-written, and I love the Maine setting. None of the characters did much for me, though, except for maybe Katharine and Edward. I'm not a big fan of college professor characters. The Treadwell/Lambert family is too depressing, and I wish they'd just talk to each other already!

This is definitely not a "feel-good" book--but I think it's realistic. What did I learn from this book? Heroin hurts. Yikes!

Although this book is mainly about relationships between family members, the plot is grip
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USA Geography Cha...: Cost by Roxana Robinson 1 2 Dec 29, 2014 01:20AM  
very good read 1 22 Oct 13, 2008 12:29PM  
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Born in Pine Mountain, Kentucky, Roxana Robinson grew up in New Hope, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Buckingham Friends School, in Lahaska, and from The Shipley School, in Bryn Mawr. She attended Bennington College and studied with Bernard Malamud and Howard Nemerov. She received a B.A. degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan.
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“The crimes you paid for as a parent: excruciating, to be blamed for something you'd never dreamt of doing, or huring someone you'd give your heart's blood to...One thing you learned as a parent was humility.” 1 likes
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