An affirming story of sisterhood and second chances in the 1960s and ’70s. When the love of Lisa Stern’s life dies in a car accident, she’s left to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Though she’s a smart, attractive and self-possessed 20-something, without her longtime boyfriend (and one-time college professor), Mac, Lisa loses herself—and her ability to cope. The novel begins with Lisa’s journey out of Boston to Cape Cod, where she finds solace in the company of a widowed Portuguese baker. The two women’s unlikely friendship allows Lisa to begin to make sense of her loss and inspires her to open a women’s community center to help others get back on their feet. With a new plan, and her best friend from Boston, a hard-edged single mother, in tow, Lisa returns to her hometown of Albany, N.Y., and to the overbearing Jewish family she fled years earlier. Mimicking the alogical structure of grief, much of the narrative is nonlinear: scenes of Lisa and Mac’s romance, her budding friendships in college, as well as her political awakening in the early 1960s, are interspersed carefully throughout—Tramontano has quite a knack for introducing new information from the back story in order to inform the reader’s understanding of what’s happening in the present. Tramontano’s writerly strength lies in her characters. More often than not—and there are a lot of them—characters are complicated, flawed and believable. Tramontano portrays Lisa’s troubled relationship with the architect assigned to work on the women’s center in Albany particularly adroitly, using it to reveal that Lisa’s perfect lost love might not have been so perfect after all.
Suffused with the spirit of the ’60s, Tramontano’s is a warm and engaging debut.
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The novel boasts a strong sense of place and time…readers will appreciate the well-drawn characters and the author’s realistic portrayal of the period.
“In her debut novel, the lyrical voice of this gifted poet rings clear. She weaves history, politics and emotions into this multifaceted tale of passion and perseverance, sprinkling
her vivid narrative with memorable characters.”
- Kathe Kokolias, What Time do the Crocodiles Come Out?
“The women in this novel find their way through loss and heartbreak by taking risks and living deeply. Their resilient characters shine as clearly as pebbles in a stream. It is an exquisitely written novel by an accomplished poet and prose writer.”
- Cecele Allen Kraus, Dreaming Baranquilla, Tuscaloosa Bypass
“This story captivated me from the very start. It explores the breadth of issues we wrestle with as we try to find our way.”
- Joan Harrington Women’s Studies Program, Empire State College