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Adult Onset

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  3,219 ratings  ·  473 reviews
From the acclaimed, bestselling author of 2 beloved classics, Adult Onset is a powerful drama about motherhood, the dark undercurrents that break and hold families together, and the power and pressures of love.

Mary-Rose MacKinnon--nicknamed MR or "Mister"--is a successful YA author who has made enough from her writing to semi-retire in her early 40s. She lives in a comfortable
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Knopf Canada
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Gabriella Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet: a fantastic play that subverts two of Shakespeare's best known works. It's playful, smart and a lot of fun.…moreGoodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet: a fantastic play that subverts two of Shakespeare's best known works. It's playful, smart and a lot of fun. See it staged if you can.(less)

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Average rating 3.26  · 
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 ·  3,219 ratings  ·  473 reviews

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Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
this is the lesbian version of The Yellow Wallpaper, proving that the stress of motherhood can be debilitating enough even without the added biological weight of postpartum depression. this book is a detailed character study of mary rose, more commonly known as "mister," who is in the role of stay-at-home mom in toronto while her wife hilary has gone to calgary to direct a play, leaving mister in charge of five-year-old matthew and two-year-old maggie. over the course of the week, mister struggles with ph ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Tough review for me. Like so many others I love, love A.M MacDonald. Loved both of her previous novels and think everyone should read them. I was so anxious and excited to read this book that I ordered it from Canada as it is not yet available in the USA.

I will not summarize the plot, many others have done so, but I have to say that I had many issues with much of this novel. For me much of it felt like a Yuppy tour of Toronto, as the protagonist goes about her day she lists the shops and landma
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
It pains me to say this, it pains me so very much, how could this have happened to such a beloved author? What could have / should have been wonderful flat out was not. It was as though a conversation was transcribed with painful and liberal doses of Toronto product placement thrown in. A women trying to come to terms with the anger she begins to feel towards her kids sparks deeper thinking to childhood trauma she experienced at the hands of her own mother. Interesting stuff right? Not here. I w ...more
4.5 Stars! A fascinating, riveting book that takes place over one week in the life of a (lesbian) stay-at-home mom in Toronto. The book skips back a bit occasionally to the child/young adulthood of the MC (Mary Rose, aka MR, aka Mister) but mostly deals with the here and now, often inside MR's head. It's psychologically rich and complicated, dealing with the stresses of motherhood and remembered trauma of physical illness and familial homophobia. It's painfully real a lot of the time, but often ...more
I loved MacDonald's previous books, but frankly this one did not measure up. It was so slow moving, I kept waiting for something to happen. I almost abandoned it several times. I found the main character to be self-involved, and not in an interesting way. I think the themes in the book are interesting but they were not written in an interesting way for me, and the story just didn't draw me in at all. A disappointment for sure.
Sarahc Caflisch
May 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Ugh, what? This book is like someone you suddenly meet who seems like a great new smart friend who is well spoken, and who will really "get you" over long, late-night talks fueled by wine, but who ends up being super crazy-pants and obsessed with bulls*t.

-Title is clever!
-Word choice and whatevves is good.


-Almost fetishizing domestic violence and child abuse
-Ends up being boring
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it

Review to follow.
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Very disappointed with this book. Having enjoyed her first 2 books, this one reads as semi-autobiographical and has no meat on it- unless you enjoy reading the day-to-day life of a stay-at-home mom who has put her career on hold. It was a tortuous read and I only managed to get half-way and saw no point in completing it at all.
Mary Curran
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Well -written and sometimes humorous, Adult Onset is not nearly as engaging as Ann Marie MacDonald's other two novels. The subject matter, although poignant, lends itself to MacDonald's signature humour, but does not deliver. One feels that the book was written as therapy which puts the reader in a difficult position. Nevertheless an entertaining book
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
I felt it was a disjointed, self-indulgent form of therapy for the author. Strange evolution from the great Fall on Your Knees.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it liked it
i am still processing this read, not totally sure how i feel about it, and wavering on my rating (between 2- & 3-stars). so this may change. the book is a monthly group read in one of my groups, so i am curious whether the discussion over the course of december will clarify or improve my feelings.

my expectations going into this novel were not a factor. while i had loved Fall on Your Knees, i was only so-so about The Way the Crow Flies. i really admire ann-marie macdonald for her work as a wr
Ben Babcock
Reading Adult Onset feels like watching someone else watch a movie inside a glass box: I can see them enjoying the movie but can’t quite join in. I think I’ve come to terms with the fact I didn’t like this book, but I’m still trying to figure out if it’s well written or not. That is, I’m pretty certain most of what I didn’t like is on me, not on the book—but maybe a little of it is the book’s doing. Ann-Marie MacDonald is a versatile, clever author, and I admire what she attempts with this book. But ...more
Andrea MacPherson
I really, really wanted to love this book. Fall on Your Knees is one of my all-time favourites (and I really liked The Way the Crow Flies), and maybe that's one of the reasons this fell short for me.

Adult Onset takes a decidedly modern turn, instead of utilizing the past as her previous two novels did. It's also markedly different in terms of style and tone. It follows a week in the life of Mary Rose, a successful YA writer who has put her career on hold to care for her two small children.

2.5 stars, review pending.
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is simply one of the best books I've read this year. Thanks to Good Reads and Random House Canada for giving me an ARC and especially thanks to Anne-Marie MacDonald for writing such a great novel. Mary Rose, MR or Mister as she's called, is a complicated character, a recognizable person who is busy caring for her two children and worrying about her aging parents and dealing with the daily joys and challenges of life, fending off questions about when her next YA book is due. She might be you ...more
Friederike Knabe
"whenever the past starting piling up behind Mary Rose, threatening to collapse, the family would move and presto, she would get another chance. She got good at being new." Now Mary Rose McKinnon, Mister as she has been called since her childhood, appears to be stuck. Taking a break from her successful writing career to look after household and her and her wife's small children, she cannot "just move" and start again when the many demands on her seem to overwhelm her. Running the household while ...more
Natashya KitchenPuppies
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been waiting so very long (it seems) for this multi-talented lady to come out with a new book. As the Crow Flies and Fall on Your Knees are on my list of favourite books ever. Okay, it may be a bit of a long list. But hey, all I do is read.

Adult Onset is distinctly personal and at times comes across as self-indulgent until it hits you - that's how it's supposed to me. The inner machinations of the human mind - bored, distressed, anxious, overwhelmed... everything we try to hid
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Loved her 1st two novels, waited so long, and then.... this one was so slow-moving. Too much info about things like trying to get the rubber boots on the kid and cooking tofu. I think it deserves 3.5, but that's not an option. I'm not ready to give it 4 points. Feel bad about 3, but when I compare this to so many other books I gave a 4 to...

I actually had a hard time finishing it, whereas the first two novels I sped through and totally loved. She's still a great writer, but I felt li
Wendy Tomlinson
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am such a fan of MacDonald's previous novels that I was almost afraid to read this one- I was certain it would be a disappointment, but thankfully she came through and Adult Onset was well worth the 13 year wait. The main character is so relatable, I know she will stay with me for a long time. As a wordsmith MacDonald delivers some stunningly clever passages, that I reread and savored like really good chocolate.
Nov 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I was disappointed with this book. It was well written, but it lacked the pull that MacDonald's other novels have. It was easy to put down. The story didn't move along. She kept returning to the same issues. I felt that she was working through a lot of her personal angst rather than telling a story.
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was mediocre at best - nothing like her gripping, intense previous novels. Mary Rose MacKinnon is not an interesting character and not much happens, really.
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, can-con
Mary Rose MacKinnon (AKA "MR", AKA "Mister"), is a semi-retired YA author of two successful novels (which everyone -- her fawning fanbase, her wife, and her parents -- assume will eventually become a trilogy), who is raising two small children in a shabby-but-gentrifying, downtown Toronto neighbourhood. Having put her writing on hold in order to assume the role of stay-at-home-Mumma, Adult Onset chronicles one week in Mary Rose's life; a week in which her wife, Hilary, is away directing a play in Cal ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
While I did not really love this book, couldn't "find myself" in it the way I found myself absorbed in her previous novels, I still feel that this was an undeniably well-written book.

It is certainly a personal novel. Moving from page to page, I really had a sense that this book was almost a record of events that had happened to the author at different points in her life, which added to the authenticity and, dare I say, Naturalism of the story. I don't know too many details of the aut
Karen McCluskey
I was thrilled to win an ARC of Adult Onset from Goodreads Giveaways. Ann-Marie MacDonald's other works are among my favourite books, especially the five-star Fall on Your Knees, which stayed with me for weeks afterward, enveloping me in the most powerful book hangover I've ever experienced. I have been hesitant to write this review, in no small part because of the wonderful reading experiences Ms. MacDonald has given me in the past. However, as part of the intention of the giveaway program is t ...more
Dorianne Emmerton
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't think this will be as big a hit as her first two, as it doesn't have the epic scope and big traumas that they did, but Adult Onset had all these "oooof" moments for me. It's about a woman who's a writer and is not currently writing, instead spending her days with her willful toddler. She's got some hangups and some issues with her temper and all of that was very identifiable for me. So was the loving, familiar descriptions of the places in Toronto where she lived and shopped and otherwis ...more
Mary Armstrong
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The novel all of us Ann-Marie MacDonald fans have been waiting for is here.Not surprisingly,it's about what she's doing these days. It's largely autobiographical. Authors write about what they know, right?

Mary Rose, the protagonist, and her lesbian partner Hil, a film producer, have two children, birthed by the younger Hil.Mary Rose stays home with them.

Anyone with small children will appreciate the scenes with the 2 1/2-year-old Maggie when Mary Rose struggles to be the perfect, patient mothe
May 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Although this book provides a good medium for book clubs to discuss many themes such as lesbianism, difficulties of motherhood, postpartum depression, uncontrolled rage/anger and aging parents, I found it to be a tedious read even though Ann Marie McDonald is a gifted writer. It jumps around too much where she lives in parallel worlds. A disappointment and one of the few books I have had to force myself to finish.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like many others, I loved Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies. Adult Onset did not disappoint, but it did not "transport me" in the same way MacDonald's other two novels did. I did find, however, that it provided me with a very powerful depiction of what it must be like to be the parent of two small children. Mary Rose's (Mister's) frustration and fears were palpable.

This is a novel about the need to come to terms with the way we were raised while raising children of our own, so that
Jul 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I was lucky enough to have received an advance reader copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway, and as a huge fan of Ann-Marie MacDonald’s previous books I have been anticipating something new from her for some time. Perhaps my strong desire for something new from MacDonald combined with the thrill of hearing about this book and furthermore actually winning a copy set my expectations too high, or maybe I really just didn’t love this as much as I hoped to – either way, it sadly did fall short o ...more
Wendy Caron
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
I can't call this book a disappointment because MacDonald's ability to evoke images and recollections of familiar things from my past, e.g. expressions, Toronto landscapes, the realities of being a stay-at-home mom is brilliant. More accurately, the book didn't live up to what I've come to expect from MacDonald in terms of depth of story based on her previous epic novels. Too many issues were left unresolved and things that I found myself wanting to know more about were brushed over. I've been t ...more
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Ann-Marie MacDonald is a Canadian playwright, novelist, actor and broadcast journalist who lives in Toronto, Ontario. The daughter of a member of Canada's military, she was born at an air force base near Baden-Baden, West Germany.

MacDonald won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for her first novel, Fall on Your Knees, which was also named to Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.

She receiv
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“She never knows when it might strike. The rage. And when it does, she loses her grip on herself—literally. At times, she could swear she sees another self—shiny black phantom, faceless, as though clad in a bodysuit—leaping out of her, pulling the rest of her in its wake. Over the edge.” 2 likes
“The MacKinnons were always new, always almost just like everyone else. Always next door to normal. It was like growing up in the witness protection program without changing your name.” 0 likes
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