About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#24: Cost

Cost, by Roxana Robinson (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008).

"When Julia Lambert, an art professor, settles into her idyllic Maine house for the summer, she plans to spend the time tending her fragile relationships with her father, a repressive neurosurgeon, and her gentle mother, who is descending into Alzheimer's. But a shattering revelation intrudes: Julia's son Jack has spiraled into heroin addiction. In an attempt to save him, Julia marshals help from her looseknit clan: elderly parents; remarried ex-husband; removed sister; and combative eldest son. Ultimately, heroin courses through the characters' lives with an impersonal and devastating energy, sweeping the family into a world in which deceit, crime, and fear are part of daily life. ... In Cost, Robinson tackles addiction and explores its effects on the bonds of family, dazzling us with her hallmark subtlety and precision in evoking the emotional interiors of her characters. The result is a work in which the reader's sense of discovery and compassion for every character remains unflagging to the end, even as the reader, like the characters, is caught up in Cost's breathtaking pace."

Opening Lines:
"Her memory was gone. It came to Katharine like a soft shock, like a blow inside the head."

My Take:

Aaahh. After working a few late nights, I took last night off, got into bed at 9, and stayed up till I finished Cost. (Admittedly, I was about 2/3 of the way through when I went to bed.) Compelling, beautifully-written story with a fitting, not-too-tidy ending. I particularly appreciated Robinson's skill with both intensity and depth. On one hand, she really takes you inside the seamy, devastating details of Jack's addiction ... on the other, you also feel like you understand and appreciate the other characters' more subtle inner lives. I was especially moved by Julia's parents' struggle with their advancing frailty. If you're looking for a compelling read that's fast-paced enough to hold your interest, but substantial enough that you don't feel like you've wasted the time it took to read it. this one's a keeper.

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