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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  7,000 Ratings  ·  248 Reviews
It is the 1960s, in suburban New York City, and twelve-year-old Maggie Scanlan begins to sense that despite the calm surface of her peaceful life, everything is going strangely wrong.

When her all-powerful grandfather is struck down by a stroke, the reverberations affect Maggie's entire family. Her normally dispassionate father breaks down, her mother becomes distant and un
Published (first published April 9th 1991)
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(showing 1-30)
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Marcie Crandall
Nov 03, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I forced myself to "muddle" through this one because I feel like I have given up on so many books lately. It seems that for every good book, there are 100 terrible books (this one falls into the latter category). I don't even reccomend anyone. Sorry.
Carol Storm
Anna Quindlen has many gifts, but subtlety is not one of them. Nor is originality. Just about every character and plot device in this novel has been used before -- many, many times before. Oddly, for a hell-on-wheels nagging feminista, Anna Quindlen seems unduly influenced by male authors (and cliches.) She steals much, but understands little.

Let's see, a family saga about a wealthy immigrant clan ruled by a shady, all-powerful patriarch. GODFATHER, anyone? Just as John Scanlan is clearly Don V
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I rate this book a solid "fine". Quindlen's first book, it lacks the devastating plot points of her later work. I thought it made for pleasant reading without much to provoke thought or feeling.
Jen Mays
(rating 3.5)

Maggie is a young teenager caught on the threshold of establishing her identity. She's a child, but growing into a young woman, confronted suddenly by confusions such as peer pressure, popularity, and boys in a world that had seemed so calm. She's torn between two families: the well-to-do snobs of her father's lineage who seem to excel at looking down on others while failing to smell their own stink, and the more humble immigrants that her mother escaped from by getting pregnant bef
Sep 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quindlen has a way of making me like her, but I'm not sure why. This book was hurkey jerky in its story and the grandfather Mr. Scanlan made me mad. But even though I didn't love the story, Quindlen will sometimes write an insight from a character that will make me gasp-and consequently understand myself more!!

The insight in this story was when Margaret told Tommy to leave his mother alone when she couldn't decide on the details of a funeral. Margaret said, "It's called displacement. You focus o
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12 year old Maggie Scanlan has one of those pivotal summers that people in books always seem to have. I enjoyed the book - it is well written and never dull. I am also of that generation which was 12 years old about the same time as Maggie so I could relate to some of it - and some not. Maybe because I grew up on the West Coast and was not a Catholic kid in New York, maybe because I was patently out of the loop (or backward) when I was 12, I have a hard time believing in what to me are implausib ...more
A coming of age novel, both in a literal and figurative sense. Young and old alike, the characters all realized in the end that whatever effect that other people have on them - genetically or otherwise, it is what they decide on what or who they will become that matters.

The narrative was well put together, but I am a little bit wanting for more dialogue. Paragraphs seem to be unending, and they almost always lulled me to sleep.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy Anna Quindlen and I read this book in the early 90's. The new lessons, phrases and ideas this re-read sparked, however, really surprised me. I guess "ages and stages" in life really does make a difference in what will resonate with a reader. Great read. Again.
Jul 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I loved that is was essentially a feminist coming of age story, I had heard so many great things about Anna Quindlen that I expected to like it more than I did.
Cathy Ryan
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a reason Anne Quindlen won the Pulitzer! It's because she is an incredible writer. GREAT coming of age book.
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took awhile for the book to get going but it's worth reading. I'm always a sucker for anything set in the 60's.
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the characters in this one, and the life lessons. Excellent.
May 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Becky by: Patricia Mavor
This book teaches that we are always in a phase of learning and discovery about ourselves, our relationships, and our environment. I would like to say it is mainly a coming of age story, but the mother and father are also learning lessons. Quindlen has a marvelous way of expressing feelings that we experience as we learn these lessons. The second quote (I typed below) rang SO true to me, it was like she could read my mind.

"...and Maggie had lost the knack
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel got off to a slow start and I must admit I set it aside for a few days while I read other things. In the interim, I had the pleasure of hearing Anna Quindlen speak at a luncheon. I have been a fan of Ms. Q for quite a while, especially the columns she used to write for Newsweek. In this, her first, novel, the times are changing and so are many of the characters' lives. The family patriarch, John Scanlon, is used to getting his way in all things. He came from poverty to amass an impres ...more
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I am surprised that I did not love this book more. It was good, don't get me wrong, but I was expecting to not be able to put it down. I was expecting one of those really easy to lose yourself in books. I had started another of her books a few months ago while I was waiting for someone in the library. I was really drawn into that book, and wished that I was at a point where it was practical for me to start reading another book. But I wasn't, so I left it in the library, thinking "when summer com ...more
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the reviews that I read said that this book moved too slow for them and they gave up on it. I think that if you are the type of person who likes to be pulled in immediately by the story and dislikes when so much of the story takes place in the characters head (i.e. thoughts), then you would probably not care for this book. But I like books that pull you into the motives behind the actions. However, I wasn't completely gripped until page 188
The main character is Maggie Scanlan, but we a
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very quiet and thoughtful. It's a coming of age, so the main focus is on the sweeping changes in the lives of a mother and daughter over the course of a summer. It's about finding your voice, about learning to accept and love who you are, about breaking away from constraint and oppression to find fulfillment even if that means simply realizing that you've had the things you've wanted all along. This book is full of strong, smart, amazing female characters. Set in the 60s, the setti ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
Tommy Scanlan, 3rd son of a domineering, iron fisted Irish Catholic marries the most beautiful girl in his world, much to his father's dismay because Connie is Italian. This is a problem for Jack Scanlan in 1960's Irish Catholic suburban New York City. The rest of his children follow his directives, marry the women he chooses and work for him. He's the patriarch and makes no bones about it, there's a correct way to do things and Tommy's not following the rules, in fact, Tommy has branched out on ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed this. I am not a student of the mid-60s in any way, but I do recognize that this book is an extremely narrow portrayal of human experience at that time. I found, however, the characters to be well-written and their dramas to be realistic and I thought Quindlen took a very narrow world and deepened it so that, even though we were not provided much outside of that world, we were given a very three-dimensional view of it.

I liked how Quindlen presented a time period of change from the vie
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Anna Quindlen and was pleased to find this book - her debut novel. I'm only giving it 3 stars however as it fell a little short of my expectations. If I had read it first I'd have probably rated it higher, but she obviously developed and surpased herself over the years and going backwards made me more critical. It might just be me, but I found the story jumped around so much I was never sure if I missed a page and would frequently turn back to be sure. The characters were amazing. Real, a ...more
Aug 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Decent coming of age story, which is one of my favorite genres, aside from memories. I like Anna Quindlen but this book didn't "capture" me the way her other books. One True Thing was amazing. This was just okay.

Don't get me wrong - I *liked* it but I didn't fall into it the way one does with books. I found myself reading it and then needing to go back and read it again b/c my mind was wandering. Bad sign.

I did appreciate the story and the charactes. If there's one thing that Anna Quindlen doe
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: womens-fiction
I believe this was Quindlen's debut novel. It was good, not great. The blurb says it is a coming of age story for 13 year-old Maggie Scanlon over a summer. It is, but other characters evolve into themselves as well, as we take a peek into an ordinary extended family with a domineering patriarch.

"She felt the weight of all the wasted years, of the playacting that all of them had done while they lived with that great central figure... Connie supposed that that was the sin for which they all will h
Anna Ragsdale
As this is Anna Quindlen's first novel, I'd have to give her a 3.5. Although there wasn't much originality to this story, I really enjoyed the inner monologues of Connie and learning about the Scanlan clan. Quindlen will surprise you and write a few lines that make you gasp and have to read the sentence a few times. She's very subtle in the lessons she's trying to get across in this novel, and I love that so much. It's refreshing and cleansing- definitely a quick read.
Enjoyable read, but I would have loved to be able to connect more with the characters. It was like the author intended you to get right in their heads, but Tommy is the only one you really understand - side characters such at Celeste, Debbie and Helen are easier to "know" than Maggie, Connie or Mary Frances.

A tad slow sometimes, the writing style is nonetheless enjoyable and the insights at the end were meaningful for me.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a long time fan of Anna Quindlen I missed reading this first novel of hers somewhere along the line. Found a copy in a used book store and decided to read it. It's not as polished as her later books, but a well rounded look at one wealthy Catholic family headed by a domineering male. The long term effects of his power and expectations color the whole family from his sons and daughter to his grandchildren. A wonderful tale of changes and triumphs.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It is a coming of age story that is complicated by death, racial stereotyping, patriarchal family structure, loyalty and sexual awakening. This is not a YA book as the themes are given their due.
I liked Maggie enough to hope that at the end of the story she went on to break boundaries and challenge paradigms.
Bildungsroman . Maggie grows from girl to woman over one summer as her previous best friend seeks more excitement, a cousin falls pregnant by mistake, her mother dares to start to build a life and be herself and her overbearing grandfather dies,. a pivotal time for the community. nicely done and very readable.
Dec 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Quindlen's first published book, 1991. A bit slow moving considering her later novels. Not sure how I would have felt had I actually read this first. It's sort of a coming of age novel with the 12-year old protagonist, Maggie, showing more maturity than her age. She actually thinks! Something I wonder if kids today do! LOL.
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young teens all the way to the very old
Shelves: justread
This was Quindlen's first novel after her success as an essayist. She has a wonderful true voice as the young girl Maggie and I found the relationship between Maggie and her conflicted mother to be authentic and touching. The characters of Maggie's two grandfathers were also so real that I could see each of them while I read those parts of the book.
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Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: OBJECT LESSONS, ONE TRUE THING, BLACK AND BLUE, BLESSINGS, RISE AND SHINE, EVERY LAST ONE, STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS, and MILLER'S VALLEY. Her memoir LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bests ...more
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“The beginning and the end are never really the journey of discovery for me. It is the middle that remains a puzzle until well into the writing. That's how life is most of the time, isn't it? You know where you are and where you hope to wind up. It's the getting there that's challenging.” 13 likes
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