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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Lorrie Moore - A Gate at the Stairs


This book was on the Orange shortlist and I do try and read as many as I can before the competition ends. This year the shortlist has been phenomenal and this book is no exception.
It concerns a college student in mid-west America who becomes the part time nanny to a couple to supplement her income. However this is no ordinary couple, they are seeking to adopt and Tassie is included in all the interviews for a child. The couple eventually foster a part African-American child with a view to adoption but all is not what it seems.
This novel is superb at getting into the minutiae of Midwest life. I loved her characterisation of Tassie, the typical student with her "quasi" this and that but atypical in her thinking , observations and life.
We also are given a look into Midwestern life and prejudices. How does a country with a black president react to a white couple with a black baby. The horrible apocryphal story of the adopted black 13 year old child with white parents being shot by police in his own home when the burglar alarm goes off sets the tone.
However, this is also a wryly amusing book mainly because we see it all through Tassie's eyes, we see her grow up , become wiser, and we realise that she is worth more than most of the other 'adult' characters put together.
I cannot give too much away as I might spoil it. It is a magnificent book and would make a superb reading group choice.

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