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At Home in the World

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,290 ratings  ·  312 reviews
When it was first published in 1998, At Home in the Worldset off a furor in the literary world and beyond. Joyce Maynard's memoir broke a silence concerning her relationship--at age eighteen--with the famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger, then age fifty-three, who had reada story she wrote for The New York Times in her freshman year of college and sent her a letter that
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 29th 1999 by Picador (first published 1998)
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I think I've mentioned once, or many, times I'm a fan of Joyce Maynard. I've read a number of her books and find them comforting. I know that if I just can't get into a book, if I pick up one of her books, I'll be fine. But with this one, I was a bit hesitant to read it. I'm not sure why. I checked it out numerous times from my library, sending it back, unread. This time, I was determined.

I was going on a two week vacation and I couldn't drag lots of books with me. Well, it's a matter of how

In 2014, I read Joyce Maynard’s novel Labor Day, and really enjoyed her ability to weave a story. In 2017, after winning a goodreads “giveaway,” I read her Under the Influence, and shortly thereafter her memoir The Best of Us. Sometime along the way,
I read something about this earlier memoir, At Home in the World: A Memoir, and wanted to read it, but had somewhat conflicted feelings. So much had been said about this being a “tell-all” memoir of her relationship with J.D. Salinger, and al
Elyse  Walters
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
QUICK UPDATE: Iris brought this review to my attention this morning. It's the first time I cried in my own review. --
Why? Because so much has changed. (I've never gone back to read my old reviews).

Joyce's life 'really' changed since this time. She got married moved closer to me -then moved again...(closer to my close friend from junior high school) --
Right after Joyce moved into her new home--Her husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is cancer free now. (what a horrific hard journey)
My reaction to this book is mixed. Twenty years ago when I would happen upon Maynard's articles on the ups and downs of raising children, I really enjoyed her plucky but sufficiently self-deprecating storytelling style. I did not know anything else about the columnist. Reading At Home in the World is a bit like peeking around the curtain at the Wizard of Oz - interesting and disappointing at the same time.

The majority of the book is dedicated to dissembling her relationship with J.D. Salinger -
Camille Cusumano
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Joyce Maynards's book, AT HOME IN THE WORLD, came out in 1998 and what I recall from the press that passed by my eyes back then was a "tell-all" by one of J.D. Salinger's mistresses. Stop right here. Nothing could be more misleading. The nine months of Maynard's living in Cornish, New Hampshire, with the celebrated author of Catcher in the Rye is central to the book. But that chapter fits in the context of a much larger story, Joyce Maynard's life as daughter of intellectual parents, her
Sep 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
This memoir is the story of author Joyce Maynard's life, focusing mostly on her romantic relationship with J.D. Salinger (yes, the one who wrote Catcher in the Rye). The book covers in great detail, leaving out NOTHING, the bizarre romance between Maynard, a 19-year old Yale freshman, and Salinger, a 53-year old recluse. By the end of this book, I felt that I had spent hours reading a very long issue of a grocery tabloid. There are personal details about both authors' lives that might be juicy ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
This woman must have driven everyone around her absolutely nuts. What an odd mix of over achiever and total schmuck. I want to give her credit for portraying her life honestly, but I’m not sure I’m convinced that she is being sincere. She repeatedly discusses her continual inability to portray herself anywhere near reality despite many thinking she was in fact speaking from her heart. What exactly is supposed to make us think that this novel is any different? Quite frankly, by the end of the ...more
Michelle Margaret
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After reading a recent NYT article by Joyce Maynard about her home in San Marcos la Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (a house a bunch of my friends rented last Thanksgiving), I was inspired to read her memoir. It consumed me for five days, finally causing me to start and finish a whole book instead of just reading bits of several different books offhandedly. Well-crafted writing + intriguing (nonfiction) plot and characters... Joyce wrote a piece for the New York Times Magazine called "An ...more
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
Maynard is a very good writer, and in this long memoir, she focuses her story mostly on the her teen years until she is into middle age. She's achieved quite a lot of fame in her writing, through her screenplays, novel writing, long career as reporter, syndicated columnist.

How absurd that anyone would attack her for writing about her relationship with JD Salinger when he was 53 and she a teenager. It seems her critics couldn't attack her writing or recollections effectively, so they have gone
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
'At Home in the World,' easily one of the best memoirs I have read in a long, long while. Heck, maybe even ONE of the best. It deals with writer Joyce Maynard's affair with JD Salinger at eighteen and how his influence and ultimately his abandonment of her (completely brutal and heartless) shaped not only her life for years to come, but affected everything else, her relationships, her writing etc etc.
This book was stunning and Joyce Maynard has such a easy, engaging voice. She really doesn't
Becky Fowler
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: borrowed-books
First of all, she seems as at home in the world as an elf, make that the restless spirit of an elf who died badly. This book was super-draining to read, mostly because of how endlessly interested she STILL is in her very brief relationship w/ JD Salinger. She would have had more fun w/ a turnip, it seems, and yet somehow this relatively short period in her life became the alpha and omega of her entire existence. The best parts of the book are about her parents, vivid, complex renderings. All ...more
Kathryn in FL
I read this book years ago, not long after it was published. I was intrigued because Ms. Maynard had an affair with J.D. Salinger. I had thoroughly enjoyed "The Catcher in the Rye" and wanted to have an insider view. It wasn't what I expected but fascinating nonetheless.

Ms. Maynard met J.D. Salinger while she was attending University. He made a play for her and she was flattered but he was substantially older than she (I think it was around 30 years gap but don't quote me). He pursued her until
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book very much!
For me personally, it actually had little to do with J.D. Salinger, but more so a portrayal of a very brave, talented woman, Joyce Maynard.
It was a slow read for me. Not sure why. It is not difficult to read. But felt that certain parts needed time to think over them before moving on.
Was, of course, intriguing to have an insight in Salinger's personal life, yet Maynard's life was more captivating to read about.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Memoir of author Joyce Maynard's tumultuous life, becoming a writer at an early age she catches the attention of the famous author JD Salinger ( Catcher in the Rye) who begins corresponding with her through letters that lead to a relationship between the two in 1972 when she was a student at Yale and he was 35 years her senior. This book is written years later , when after her marriage and three children she learns of Salinger's history of a series of relationships similar to the one they had ...more
Elaine Mullane
There is a certain amount of trust involved in reading a memoir. In order to fully engage with the story, you have to take the author at his or her word. I am not saying that you shouldn't be critical; certainly not. But in a memoir where it is very clear that two very different sides of a story exist, you need to be open-minded to both, but particularly to that of the author whose story you are reading. This was quite hard in this instance. Let me explain.

I have been a fan of J.D. Salinger
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
At Home in the World is a brutally honest memoir by Joyce Maynard. She describes her early life with highly accomplished parents; her father was an alcoholic and her mother a housewife. Both wanted to do more with their lives but were regulated to less than fufilling roles. Her older sister, Rona, was a bit distant and cold but was able to get on with her life.

Then, at 18 while as a Freshman at Yale, Maynard wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine regarding her generation that caught
Terri Sinclair
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I know many people will read this because of the connection to JD Salinger and to be honest that's what initially brought my attention to the book. I knew nothing about Maynard, little about Salinger (other than reading his books) and thought this would offer insight into the private and illusive writer, Salinger.

There was a lot of talk at the time about Maynard exploiting her relationship with Salinger which I didn't get at all. The book is filled more with self analysis in my opinion and is
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it

AT HOME IN THE WORLD is the mesmerizing memoir by Joyce Maynard that chronicles her devastating, all-consuming relationship with renowned novelist, J. D. Salinger.

On the surface, it seems inexplicable: why would an eighteen-year-old girl 'fall in love' with a fifty-three year-old man? But now, having read the book, I feel I understand.

Salinger’s first letter seems innocent—he was a fan of her New York Times essay, "An Eighteen-year old Looks Back on Life" and "cautions that a glimpse of fame can
Roberta Parry
Jul 28, 2016 rated it liked it

The New York Times Book Review called Joyce Maynard's memoir At Home in the World disturbing. I would add depressing. I bought the book because of her relationship with J. D. Salinger, which I was unaware of until recently. She didn't get to her initial contact with Salinger until page 71. The pages preceding, after an Introduction, cover her childhood, her relationship with her parents and older sister, her entrance into Yale, and the success of an article she publishes in the The New York
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it
It may be easy to write this memoir off as literary-world gossip since it is pretty revealing in regard to the author's brief affair with one of the most reclusive and renowned writers of our time. Maynard is candid about Salinger, who does not come off well in this depiction, but Maynard is brutally honest about herself as well. She often seems hysterical, exhaustively needy, and obsessed with her past. At the same time, she's a good writer, pretty self-aware, and regardless of the salacious ...more
Feb 06, 2016 added it
Shelves: memoir
"It's shame, not exposure, that I can't endure...It's the things people don't talk about that scare me."

This notion is threaded throughout this book...and perhaps is the underlying idea for most memoir.

When she was eighteen, Joyce was enticed into a relationship with the reclusive, famous J.D. Salinger. Later we learn that she wasn't the only young woman he wooed. A powerful man can gain a lot by enforcing silence about his acts. Just ask the women who came in contact with Bill Cosby. Salinger
Feb 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually liked the second half of this one much more than the first half, which is the part about JD Salinger. Joyce's year with JDS sounds awful--not a single romantic thing about it. If you are a Salinger fan, I'd avoid this book--it makes him sound not like an obsessively private enigma, but like a total creep and weirdo. The last half of the book was far more interesting to me, because it really explored the relationship Joyce had with writing for money--because it was what she felt like ...more
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
I spent the first half of this book so frustrated with the author. She chronicles her life up to age 45 or so and the first half focus's on her childhood with her alcoholic father and slightly strange mother. She writes and is featured in a new york times article at age 17. She then is sent fan mail one letter from the notoriously private JD Salinger and off she goes on a writing then meeting affair (w/o sex). Maynard writes in a way that's readable and it flows. She is so honest and talented. I ...more
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love the title of this book. How few people actually feel at home in the world, especially when young. Here, Joyce Maynard decides to break her silence on her year long affair with J.D. Salinger in 1971. In light of his recent death, I felt compelled to read what she wrote twelve years ago.
In this book, she continues with her life after Salinger, talks about her unusual relationship with her parents, and tries for some reconciliation. Since Joyce and I are the same age, I especially liked
Melanie Edens
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
When this book was first published, I agreed with the surrounding buzz, pre-judging even though I hadn't even read the book. Basically, the press said she was bitter and used her "short affair" with J.D. Salinger as a kind of poor me confessional. Boy was I wrong. This is a many-layered coming of age memoir of a talented writer, told with immense honesty and candor. I have read Joyce Maynard's fiction and love her writing. Knowing her story informs her writing.
Read this if you want to know more
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
What a wild ride, page turner, swelled head look at the egos of a young talented writer smitten with a legend JD Salinger. Truth is stranger than fiction. And which one of them has a bigger or more vulnerable ego is in the eye of the reader.
Lara Lillibridge
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I listened to this on audible.

Joyce Maynard writes clearly and directly about her life. We follow the narrator from childhood through all stages of life, ending when her youngest of three children is (I'm guessing at the age) an early teenager. This book was worth the read for me as a writer just for the very end when she talks about being a mother and a writer. I will cherish her inclusion of that final bit, which I needed to hear on the cusp of my own memoir coming out. (Thanks to Elyse
Rachel Pollock
I didn’t hate it. (For a memoir, that’s saying something.) It’s interesting enough for maybe the first half, but 2/3 of the way in and I was ready for it to be done. I’m unsurprised that Salinger was emotionally abusive and stunted, a crappy lay, and a borderline pedo (maybe?). I’m disappointed that the author did so much telling and implying but no deep analytical thinking or judging. Missed opportunity.
Utterly weird and utterly compelling. When Maynard was still a teen, she published a world-weary essay about life. It caught the eye of J.D. Salinger, whose letter was among the many Maynard received in response to her essay. She wrote back. Soon they were corresponding regularly, and talking on the phone, and then Maynard dropped out of Yale to go live with Salinger.

The book covers a great deal more than that, though. It's about Maynard's whole life—her family and other things that influenced
Wow. Joyce Maynard is a sad, deluded, piece of work, and her affair with the super shitty, controlling, brimming with hatred, king of teen angst, JD Salinger, most certainly did not help her. It hindered her for life. I wonder how different she would be if she'd stayed on at school, away from her crazy parents, amongst people her own age.
I've never been a Salinger fan. I read his books as a teen, and re-read Nine Stories as an adult, and was surprised by the great esteem his name and work have
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Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to ...more