Saturday, June 11, 2016

Amy and Isabelle

After I read Elizabeth Strout's latest book, My Name Is Lucy Barton, I saw her first book at a used book store and decided to read it, since I am such a fan of her other books. Amy and Isabelle is also a story about mother and daughter relationships.

Sixteen year old Amy lived with her widowed mother, Isabelle, in a small New England mill town. 
Over the summer, Isabelle got Amy a job at the mill where Isabelle worked.  Isabelle had worked there for years, but kept herself rather isolated from her co-workers.  As it turned out, Isabelle had secrets that she wanted kept hidden away.  Meanwhile, Amy had fallen in love with her math teacher and they were having an affair.  When Isabelle's boss came across Amy and the math teacher in his car, both Amy and Isabelle's worlds fell apart.  As the relationship was revealed, the math teacher left town and Amy would no longer have anything to do with her mother, despite working and living together. Apparently out of desperation, Isabelle began to get closer to her co-workers and eventually her secrets were revealed.

There are also wonderful other characters in this story, especially their co-workers, "Fat Bev" and Dottie Brown.  And Amy's pregnant school friend Stacy.  These women all had great insights and wisdom into life that may have been somewhat flawed, but still important in their own way.

Both Amy and Isabelle come of age in this novel. It goes far beyond just mother-daughter issues. It was especially interesting to see not just a teenager, but also her mother mature and examine her issues.

I would say that for a first novel, this was a winner!

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