With compassion, humor, and striking insight, Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the love between a mother and her daughter. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality.
When discovered, this emotional and physical trespass brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies the shame she feels about her own past. In a fury, she lashes out at her daughter's beauty and then retreats into outraged silence. Amy withdraws, too, and mother and daughter eat, sleep, and even work side by side but remain at a vast, seemingly unbridgeable distance from each other.
This conflict is surrounded by other large and small dramas in the town of Shirley Falls--a teenage pregnancy, a UFO sighting, a missing child, and the trials of Fat Bev, the community's enormous (and enormously funny and compassionate) peacemaker and amateur medical consultant. Keeping Isabelle and Amy as the main focus of her sharp, sympathetic eye, Elizabeth Strout attends to them all. As she does so, she reveals not only her deep affection for her characters, both serious and comic, but her profound wisdom about the human condition in general. She makes us care about these extraordinary ordinary people and makes us hope that they will find a way out of their often self-imposed emotional exile.
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.
A lyrical, closely observant first novel, charting the complex, resilient relationship of a mother and daughter...In less sure hands, all of this would seem merely melodramatic.
A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life.
Recent Reader Reviews
Review (not rated)
hey. I am in the middle of reading this book, and so far its realy good. I hope the ending is as good as it shoukd be! Thanks, and ill do another review when im finished with the book!
Rated of 5
I have throughly enjoyed this book and i think that every mother and daughter should read it. It discusses the complex relationship they share and how it can keepthem together or tare them apart
Review (not rated)
by Anonymous Sarah Cowan The novel Amy and Isabelle was beautiful in the sense that it portrayed life as it is, not as we hope and imagine it to be. It reveals truth and reality in such a way that we can relate as the readers. Its message clarifies... Read More
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