In Laura Moriarty's extraordinary first novel, a young girl tries to make sense of an unruly world spinning around her. Growing up with a single mother who is chronically out of work and dating a married man, 10-year old Evelyn Bucknow learns early how to fend for herself.
Offering an affecting portrayal of a troubled mother/daughter relationship, one in which the daughter is very often expected to play the role of the adult, the novel also gives readers a searing rendering of the claustrophobia of small town midwestern life, as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl. Evelyn must come to terms with the heartbreaking lesson of first love -- that not all loves are meant to be -- and determine who she is and who she wants to be. Stuck in the middle of Kansas, between best friends, and in the midst of her mother's love, Evelyn finds herself . . . in The Center of Everything.
Ronald Reagan is on television, giving a speech because he wants to be president. He has the voice of a nice person, and something in his hair that makes it shiny under the lights. I change the channel, but its still him, just from a different angle.
The people in the audience wear cowboy hats with REAGAN printed on the front, and they clap and blow horns every time he stops talking, so much that sometimes he has to put his hands up so theyll be quiet and hear what hes going to say next. Nancy Reagan sits behind him, smiling and wearing a peach-colored dress with a bow on one of the shoulders, no cowboy hat. She claps too, but only after everyone else has started, so it looks like while he is talking, she is maybe thinking about something else.
"Shes a mannequin," my mother says, pointing a spatula at the television. "She freaks me out."
My mother is maybe the opposite of Nancy Reagan. I could never imagine her wearing the peach...
If you liked The Center of Everything, try these:
A teenage couple drive up to the Blessings estate late at night, leaving a box behind them. The estate caretaker finds a baby asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep her; and matriarch Lydia Blessing, for her own reasons, decides to help him.
McDermott explores the mysterious depths of what seems like everyday life with unforgettable insight in this tale of a young girl's astonishing, poignant first look into the turbulent heart of things.
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