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The acclaimed author of Into the Forest mines our fears and explores our capacity to love in this epic tale of modern motherhood.
Young and pregnant, Cerise and Anna make very different decisions about how to direct their lives. While teenaged Cerise struggles to support herself and her young daughter, Anna finishes college, marries, and later gives birth to two daughters of her own. After the birth of her second child, a tragic accident tears Cerise's life apart, and she loses her already tenuous position in society. As the story progresses--and Cerise's and Anna's lives interweave and inexorably approach each other--both women are dramatically, forever changed. Unforgettable, awe-inspiring, and grippingly honest, Windfalls is a daring and mesmerizing tale.
A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.WINDFALLSJean Hegland. Atria, $25 (352p) The decision whether or not to keep a child alters the lives of two young, single women in this moving if rather programmatic second novel by Hegland (Into the Forest). Telling parallel stories that ultimately converge, Hegland explores the value of work, art, family ties and the singular bond between women and their children. Anna, a graduate photography student, has an abortion, eventually marries and has two children; Cerise, a high school sophomore, keeps her baby, raises it on her own, ekes out a living and later has another child. In following the course of their very different lives, Hegland describes a full range of maternal emotions and experiences the mind-numbing exhaustion; the weight of responsibility; the fierce desire to protect; the boundless joys and heartbreaking sorrows. When a tragic fire results in the death of Cerise's second child and the loss of her home, Hegland illuminates the plight of homeless people and demonstrates how easy it is to lose one's sense of self. Cerise hides behind a new identity, as "Honey," and finds a job at a day-care center, where her resolve and sense of purpose in the face of heart-shattering grief are remarkable. Meanwhile, Anna's life is upended when her husband's sudden unemployment forces a move to California from her family's Washington homestead. Circumstances force her back into the workforce, and Hegland brings fresh insight to the struggle working mothers face in juggling home life with their careers. When Honey becomes a caretaker for Anna's two young children, a curious bond develops between Anna and Honey as the two women strive to find a sense of purpose in their lives. The result is a powerful, life-changing experience for both of them, bringing Hegland's novel to a poignant, thought-provoking conclusion.