by Francine Prose
A novel that opens with a death in the family can easily go wrong, said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. When a high school senior drowns at the outset of Francine Prose’s latest, a reader can’t help but worry that mawkishness lies ahead. But Prose is too perceptive a writer to write a slack book, even when she starts with a commonplace premise. Goldengrove “blossoms” into a “rich, tart, eye-opening” account of how the world looks to a 13-year-old girl who’s just lost her only sister. One of Prose’s saving talents is that “she allows her characters to display senses of humor,” said Jessica Treadway in The Boston Globe. When the narrator’s mother emerges briefly from a post-funeral, pill-popping haze, for instance, we’re informed that “Mom’s spaceship [has] docked momentarily on Planet Dinner Table.” Tensions heighten when Prose’s winsome protagonist is drawn into a creepy alliance with her deceased sister’s boyfriend, said Heller McAlpin in the Los Angeles Times. But Prose’s main concern remains universal—how a young woman’s identity can emerge “out of the painful passing of innocence and youth.,
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why ABC threw its Bachelor under the bus
- Why are so many elderly Asians killing themselves?
- Why Ted Cruz is the real-life Frank Underwood
- Why I'm sick and tired of seeing naked women on HBO
- Here's proof that Justin Bieber is just as spoiled as you always thought
- Here's how Iran is covering Russia's invasion of Crimea
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 4 easy ways to resolve life's toughest questions
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
Subscribe to the Week