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The Rooms Are Filled

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The Rooms Are Filled is the moving, 1983 coming-of-age story of two outcasts brought together by circumstance: a Minnesota farm boy transplanted to suburban Chicago after his father dies, and his teacher, a closeted young woman starting over after a failed attempt to live openly. Readers will root for these two as they navigate their new lives, as they attempt to change to ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by She Writes Press
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
There are many reasons The Rooms Are Filled is dear to me. It was written at home in bits and pieces between breastfeedings, in a midnight daze on the notebook beside my bed, and on scraps of paper in the preschool pick-up line; then, later, during the precious hours the babysitter came.

It is dear to me because it is based on a story my father told me many years ago--his story of growing up in rural Minnesota and then Franklin Park, Illinois, in the 1950s. He was teased and bullied, and his lov
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As an admirer of the natural world and a fan of wildlife, this book resonated with me in so many ways. One word, mostly: wolves. I love wolves! And they played a key role in this novel (symbolically and through the memories of the young protagonist, Michael).

Despite the trim size of this 236-page novel, it doesn’t shy away from tough, thought-provoking issues. The characters look around their suburban surroundings and notice: “And dotted throughout all these plats and sidewalks were the origina
Lolly K Dandeneau
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Rooms are Filled is a tenderly written story about 9 year old Michael, who moves to Chicago from the farms of Minnesota after a loss, and his new teacher Julia Parnell, who is running from her 'forbidden' life. Both are lost souls searching to be accepted while also trying to be who they are inside. Julia is unable to live her life openly, and love who she wants, heaped with shame from her mother and the new community. Michael is yearning to fit in with his suburban peers only to be ostraciz ...more
Hallie Sawyer
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This story is about a young boy who has to grow up very quickly after his life changes dramatically and is forced to witness the underbelly of society in the early 80's. This debut novel has so much heart and soul with its simple yet powerful prose and heartbreaking lessons.

I love so much about this story. I wanted to hug the main character Michael throughout the story, telling him he was a good boy and that all would be okay. I wanted to tell Michael's mother that she was a fantastic mother an
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Wow, this story starts like a drive along a familiar country road, watching the landscape pass by, until we make a turn into new territory and encounter a different kind of settlement and life is no longer as we knew it.

Michael is nine years old when his father dies suddenly and all that he has known will change. He and his mother leave the farm, the wilderness and its wolves that had been such a large part of his father's life and move to the town where her brother lives to start again.

Both wi
Ginny Oppold washburne
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I instantly fell in love with Michael and Julia- two beautiful people trying to find themselves as they found comfort in one another's company. I read this book in 2 days and couldn't put it down. Jessica's writing is captivating, beautiful and moving. Her attention to detail transports you into the story and connects you to the characters. This book is a must read! ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Michael is the adopted son of John and Anne Nygaard and loves his life on his parents’ Minnesota farm. Then one day, the unthinkable happened. Michael’s dad collapses and dies and Michael’s mother has no choice but to sell the farm and move to Ackermann, Illinois where a job at her brother’s restaurant is waiting for her.
When they arrive in Ackermann, Michael has a difficult time making friends – he is the new kid, and the target of the 4th grade bully. He is befriended by another loner. Tina i
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm a little late to writing this review, but that shouldn't be taken as disinterest. In fact when I won this book from the wonderful team at Great New Books, I dove into the novel with abandon. I enjoy coming-of-age stories like The Rooms Are Filled. There is something so satisfying in the retelling of this common human experience, and Jessica Vealitzek gets it spot on. The two main characters are Michael, a boy who is uprooted to suburban Chicago from his farm after his father dies, and his te ...more
Jennifer King
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Rooms Are Filled is a coming-of-age story of a boy named Michael after his father dies and he and his mother have to move from their farm in Minnesota to start a new life near Chicago. It is a poignant novel with a strong message, about outcasts who find each other and find themselves after everything they counted on has changed. It is a jump back in time to the early 1980s, a glimpse of the issues of the time, and two characters who help each other through it. I recommend it to those who en ...more
Mark Wilson
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing read.
Laurie Larson-Doornbos
Rose and Julia have been inseparable since kindergarten. Wherever there was one, there was the other--"Kindred spirits are always kindred spirits. It can't be helped," said Rose. Even after college the girls were

roommates, and then they were more. Julia accepts a job as a teacher; Rose, a journalist, and together life's possibilities seem limitless. But after an uncomfortable lunch date with Rose and one of her student's family, Julia yearns for freedom and anonymity, no longer certain whether s
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thank you Jessica Null Vealitzek and goodreads, to get me this first novel in the firstreads program ! It is sure not a book, easy t !o read and to put away, without thinking about the story. For a first novel, I must say, that I am impressed !
Right on the first few pages, the tough facts of life are introduced to Michael. A little boy, who lives with his parents in the quiet woods in the Midwest ! His father died and his mother looses her baby. They have to move to Chicago, so his mother can g
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Novels don't have to be loud and showy to be good; The Rooms Are Filled is proof of that.

It's quiet and strong, and its layers peel back effortlessly. The characters are ordinary people, but even ordinary people have stories to tell. Michael is the new kid in town after his father's death forced his mother to sell the farm and move. Julia is his teacher, and she is in a new town for her own private reasons. Their stories intertwine to create a novel that continued to seep into my thoughts long
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book brought my to tears so often that I felt uncomfortable reading it on airplanes. 4 stars versus 5 because it is just too 'literary' for me at points. But, then again, most books labelled 'a novel' are literary and at least this one elicited an emotional response. ...more
Ron Estrada
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A smooth read with a great storyline, full of pathos and draw. Economy of words elongate what the descriptions leave and the writing is patient, letting the path unfold naturally. A fine, fine first book and I can't wait to read more. ...more
Jessica Cherwin
Feb 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a quick read. I enjoyed the characters and loved the relationship between Michael & his father.
Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't get how Rose could be so mean to Julie. Not mean, disrespectful. ...more
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written, sweet story with strong emotions. I absolutely adore Michael and his mom. A great read!
Sherry Griffin
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Awesome story about tragedy, loss, hate, love, and trying to figure out who they are and where they belong. I would rather have had a different ending. Good book. Thanks NetGalley.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really liked both the characters and the writing. Not sure how I felt about every aspect of the ending.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Author keeps you at distance. Hated ending. Two displaced individuals, a youth and a woman questioning her sexuality try to make it in a new setting after disruption of their lives
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book!
The lesbian teacher fell short of believability as being gay, having done nothing more than kiss her long-term best friend.
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Many interesting and sympathetic characters
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great coming-of-age story.
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Rhiannon Johnson
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Jan 06, 2016
Brennan Pomroy
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I grew up in the Midwest, in a middle-class Chicago suburb, the middle child of a C.P.A. with the heart of a literature professor and a homemaker with the mind of an entrepreneur. My family told stories around the dinner table. I listened.

After college (in the Midwest), and a move to another city (in the Midwest), I wrote for money, first as an exhibit writer and then as a political communications

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