Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Surrender, Dorothy” as Want to Read:
Surrender, Dorothy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Surrender, Dorothy

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  662 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
For years, Sara Swerdlow was transported by an unfettered sense of immortality. Floating along on loving friendships and the adoration of her mother, Natalie, Sara's notion of death was entirely alien to her existence. But when a summer night's drive out for ice cream ends in tragedy, thirty-year-old Sara -- "held aloft and shimmering for years" -- finally lands.

Mining th
...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Scribner (first published April 2nd 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Surrender, Dorothy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Surrender, Dorothy

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
M
Jun 22, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to rename this book: Who Cares? The book revolves around the untimely death of a woman whose charm is lost on me (not just charm, she is depicted as somewhat God like, let's ignore the fact that she had an affair with her best friend's husband, she is still angelic and beautiful and all things good) and whose friends and mother mourn her miserably in some ugly summer house. Yeeha. I like depressing but this wasn't even enjoyable - it was just boring. I didn't care that she died, I d ...more
Maureen
This is an interesting story about a mother's and group of friends' reactions to a girl's sudden death. The character development is good, but the plot is weak. The entire time you are reading this book, you feel as if you're going to go somewhere, but you never do. It's almost as if you are experiencing a tension the entire time you are reading. Perhaps this is Wolitzer's goal. Her characters and story in this novel actually made me uncomfortable. One could say that this, in itself, is an art f ...more
Kristin
May 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janelle
This was a difficult book to read as a thirty-something, especially as a childless thirty-something who'd recently lost her mother.

I've always felt that "friends are the family we choose for ourselves" and have had close circles of friends. We all want to believe that we've made a significant enough impact on people's lives that it wouldn't be easy for them to move on. But loving them, we also don't want the loss to be hard on them.

Although I didn't find the characters all that likable, the sto
...more
Steven
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because I had read a couple of tepid reviews of this book, I didn’t expect to enjoy it very much. To my great surprise, I found it deeply moving, delicately written, psychologically perceptive, and wickedly witty in the way it characterizes the failings (both real and imagined) of the characters. It’s the story of a young woman who dies suddenly in an accident and how her mother and a group of friends who shared a summer home with her come to terms with their loss. “Surrender, Dorothy” rings ver ...more
Roxanne
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Wolitzer is extremely easy to read. I started with The Wife, after toxicpickle gave it to me (I recommend it).

Sara, the much-loved central character, dies early in the novel, and the rest is spent mourning her. She is the tie that binds her friends together - the hub of the wheel; only after her death is each character released. It's a fascinating idea, that a person can be so compelling that people around her are pulled into her gravitational field.
Mary
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realize that I had seen this movie until I read the part where either the mother or daughter would say, "Surrender, Dorothy," each time the other one picked up the phone. As soon as I read it, I remembered it from the movie, and how much I hated that goofy phrase. I looked up reviews on both the movie and the book and decided not to finish the book since they sound exactly the same and I didn't much care for the movie. It was just o.k.
Rachel
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Once again, Meg Wolitzer proves to be a salve against the mediocre novel that I read immediately before her work. In this one, she chronicles a mid-90s August between a group of people adjusting to new realities after one of their own dies in a car crash.

Sara is a 30-something Japanese-studies graduate student, perpetually single and perpetually dating, who is unsure of where she is going in her life. Much of the first chapter is dedicated to her sense of identity, history and insecurity before
...more
Lisa
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i was surprised by the 1 & 2 star reviews here, the book is amazing & Wolitzer's writing incredible. i felt Sara was a metaphor, for youth and desirability, fantasies of perpetual studenthood or (Broadway) fame, and attachment to our parents, all of which die before we can move to adulthood, which Wolitzer proposes to be 30. Sara is the foolish thing we do (cheating, drinking, smoking, hating parents) that each character must reconcile. i love that she hides her anger at her mother so de ...more
Deneen
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A light read ... kind of dry. Not exactly my kind of read but I can't NOT finish a book.
Laurel-Rain
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a mustard-colored house in the Hamptons, four friends gather every August. They are thirty-something these days, and sometimes, they can scarcely bear to revisit the dilapidated and somewhat trashy house. But sentiment and habit draw them back every year.

But this year will be a very different one for Peter, Maddy, Adam and Sara. In the first week of this, their summer retreat, Sara will die in a car accident.

It happens when Sara and Adam are returning from buying ice cream at the Fro-Z-Cone s
...more
Pascale
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not the best of early Wolitzer. The story takes place in a slightly dingy house on Long Island in August. Lovely Sara has just died and for want of a better idea, her mother Natalie joins Sara's best friends in their holiday rental. Natalie is vaguely jealous of Adam, the shy gay playwright who was Sara's closest friend, but throws herself into mothering all the residents of the house, including Adam's boyfriend Shawn, an aspiring artist with a lot more ambition than talent. Natalie helps Maddy ...more
Jennifer Seyfried
This is a more serious read than the others I've read by this author. I should have been tipped off by the blurb that lets you know it's about the death of the woman that is presented as the main character in the first chapter. If the sudden death is shocking to the reader, imagine how it is to the friends who are waiting for her back at the house or for her mother, who not surprisingly have a hard time coming to grips with what has happened. It really is an interesting look at different ways of ...more
Dawn
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, death
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judith
Feb 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I took this off the shelf the other day I thought it might be chicklit and wondered what I was doing with it. But the back suggested another story, so I dug in.

It's about death. Death of a 30-year-old woman who was struggling to find her place in the world, who knew she had hardly begun. Sara Swerdlow was close to her mother and close to a few friends, and her death affected them all profoundly. Her closest friends, her mother, and a few young people who didn't really know her find themselv
...more
Yulia
Jun 10, 2008 marked it as left-unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-lit
On reading the first line, I knew this book wasn't for me, but it'd get too complicated explaining why. I'd come off suggesting everyone was hiding his or her latent homosexual inclinations, but where would that get me? And it's not fair to judge a book whose premise I don't accept. So no, this isn't a review, but an explanation of why I can't read or review this book: because in the end it's all too transparent to me how my understanding of the world differs from Wolitzer's simple face-value co ...more
Lola
Yet another ponderous adult novel. I'm starting to believe that the art of writing adult novels is dead. I've yet to read a truly good one from the last two decades. Same cliche "What am I going to do with my life? Where am I going?" questions asked.

The only thing that earned this book a second star was that fact that I saw a lot of my mom and me in Sara and her mother. My mom is my best friend, and in a way I am her best friend. If I died, my mom would be completely shattered. If she died, I
...more
Kim Hooper
I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it either. It reminded me of a play, with most of the action taking place in one location and most of the story based on conversations between the characters. Grief is a funny thing and I'm always morbidly interested in reading stories that deal with it head-on. This is a light read for a heavy subject. In the end, I thought the characters were pretty well-developed and I was interested enough in seeing in through. I like Wolitzer's other books better t ...more
Brittany
Oct 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not sure I would read it again. An interesting read, but not something on my "have to recommend" list.

I didn't like how Maddy just seemed to forgive Peter for his cheating, both with Sara and Natalie. I can understand if Wolitzer had followed their stories into the fall and there she forgave Peter, but within days, it just doesn't seem enough for me.

I did like that she kept the story limited to the summer house and didn't follow their stories because it was a turning point for them and their li
...more
Rachelle
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. It's so great to find a writer by pure chance. I picked up The Position previous to this one because it was a second-hand copy (cheap!) and I was intrigued by the premise. This book continued to deliver Meg Wolitzer's affable and insightful voice. I didn't like it *quite* as much, the scope was narrower, dealing with a loved one's death, but I gobbled it down like candy and felt slightly remorseful after, simply because it was over.
Andrea
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrea by: the one the List recommended wasn't available at the library, so
Shelves: chick-lit
Ugh! The joyless sex was as depressing as the obsession with death. For such a supposedly wonderful woman, Sara seemed to me to be immature and narcissitic. And Adam was such a total cliche. I did manage to finish it pretty quickly, which is the only reason it got more than 1 star. I've heard that Wolitzer generally writes funny books, so maybe I'll keep looking for the 10 Year Nap at the library and give her another chance.
Joanie
Sep 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book a girl is killed while away on vacation with her friends (they've rented a house for the summer) and the girl's mother winds up coming to stay with them. The notion of who "owns" someone after they die, the family or the friends was interesting as way the way the friends struggled to related to each other without Sara (the girl who dies) as a buffer but there were things that bugged me too. Good, but not great.
Wendy
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure why this one didn't do it for me -- nothing wrong with it structurally, and Wolitzer's writing is accessible. The premise is also strong. But for some reason I never engaged with the characters. They didn't feel like people I would choose to be friends with, which made it harder for me to empathize with them. And in a book about overcoming loss, that's a fatal blow. But I do think it's worth reading, and I'm sure I'm in the minority as far as this novel goes.
Jean Kelly
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had my doubts about a book whose main character dies Chapter 1 but the story grabs you. The friends and mother spend time together at the summer house that the friends have shared for years and make some effort to work through their individual and collective grief. Sara, though dead, is central throughout, including the title - a line shared by her and her mother through their very close relationship.
Amy
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction, 2009
This is the 2nd Meg Wolitzer book I have read and I am still really impressed. This book is the story of a young woman who dies suddenly leaving everyone close to her in shock. I always find her characters to be very real and their actions believable. Life is messy and mourning the loss of life even messier.
Cherie
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A- An interesting book; a woman who is very close to her daughter is destroyed when her daughter dies, but so are her friends. But whose pain is it? The mother almost "owns" the death, and doesn't want to share with the friends, but when she allows her daughter's friends into the grieving process, secretes are revealed and healing can eventually begin.
Lilly
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just started back to work full-time and needed a book for my hour commutes. This fit the bill. Enjoyed the story, despite the tragedy of it, and thought the characters were well developed, although a little self-centered. But surviving the first real death of a close friend takes its measure in many forms, and they are well illuminated in this story.
Judith Yeabsley
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book with no plot that was well written enough to keep one engaged. It revolves around a group of friends and the mother of a girl killed suddenly in an accident and the way they all deal with the emotions and fallout. Imperfect and diverse characters and although a depressing subject not really a depressing book.
Lacygnette
I got this because I loved Wolitzer's The Wife, but this one failed for me. The characters never seemed real and what the mother did after her daughter died was weird. BTW, the daughter dying in the first chapter (I think) was a wonderful stroke. I was totally engaged with her - more so than with the other characters.
Ashley
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I blew through this book pretty quickly and enjoyed it. I'm not really sure what I enjoyed about it, but the prose wasn't bad, the story was engaging, and the characters were engrossing. It wasn't anything amazing, but it's a good read when you want to be entertained without being subjected to bad writing.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • When it Rains: A Memoir
  • Death Tractates
  • Ten Points
  • Zim: A Baseball Life
  • Chasing Lance: The 2005 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong's Ride of a Lifetime
  • Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved
  • A Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families and Friends
  • Loverboy
  • The Work of Mourning
  • Use What You Have Decorating
  • Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life
  • The Writing on the Wall
  • Beet
  • Ghost Dance
  • Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object
  • Lambs of God
  • Happy
  • Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180
113936
Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Ten-Year Nap and seven previous novels, including The Position and The Wife. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize.

Author photo copyright Deborah Copaken.
More about Meg Wolitzer...

Share This Book

“Parents should be completely dull and ordinary and predictable. You want their relationship to be stable and incredibly boring, as though you would kill yourself if you had to be in that marriage.” Neither” 0 likes
“Friendship was a thing of extraordinary value, ever since it had become clear to both of them that lovers never lasted, and that families were the traps you walked into on major holidays and emerged from the next day, stuffed with carbohydrates and seething.” 0 likes
More quotes…