Before there was Olive Kitteridge, there was Amy and Isabelle…
“A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life.”—Alice Munro
Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout’s bestselling and award winning debut, Amy and Isabelle—adapted for television by Oprah Winfrey— evokes a teenager's alienation from her distant mother—and a parent's rage at the discovery of her daughter's sexual secrets.
In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her 16-year-old daughter, a fierce mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every glance. That they eat, sleep, and work side by side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls—a location fans of Strout will recognize from her critically acclaimed novel, The Burgess Boys—only increases the tension. And just when it appears things can't get any worse, Amy's sexuality begins to unfold, causing a vast and icy rift between mother and daughter that will remain unbridgeable unless Isabelle examines her own secretive and shameful past.
A Reader's Guide is included in the paperback edition of this powerful first novel by the author who brought Olive Kitteridge to millions of readers.
Stories of young women who suffer the sexual advances of an authority figure (in this case, a high school math teacher) seem ubiquitous these days. But in Strout's gently powerful, richly satisfying debut, the damage shows less within the heart of the teenaged girl in question than in the wreckage of the previously tranquil relationship she had enjoyed with her mother. Amy Goodrow, 16, is the shy only child of Isabelle, a single mother. Isabelle's shame over the secret of her daughter's illegitimacy and her hunger for respectability keep her painfully isolated from the community of the New England mill town where she has made her home. Even before Amy's relations with her teacher become known, her beauty and her burgeoning sexuality arouse uncomfortable feelings of competitiveness in Isabelle, as well as dread at the prospect of her daughter's flight from Isabelle's carefully constructed nest. Amy, meanwhile, is in love; Strout lays out her teacher's charms as clearly as his caddishness, and her portrait of a young woman stumbling on the shattering power of lust--her own and others'--balances delicacy with frankness and breathtaking acuity. In the end, it is Isabelle who stays with the reader; devastated by her daughter's betrayal, riven with regrets over a life left largely unlived, she must somehow make amends to herself. This beautifully nuanced novel steers a course somewhere between the whimsy of Alice Hoffman and the compassionate insight of Anne Tyler and Sue Miller, and is sure to delight fans of all three.
Amy & Isabelle
Elizabeth Strout's fluid style captures the complex relationship of a mother and daughter coming-of -age in Maine. I must note that the scene in which Mother angrily chops off her daughter's hair seems to be directly lifted from "Mommie Dearest"; whether Strout is aware of this is unknown. Otherwise, a nice read.
So full of insight about relationships between women, mothers and daughters, besties. Loved it.
Really liked it