Author(s): Alice McDermott
'At seven, I was a shy child, and comical-looking, with a round flat face and black slits for eyes, thick glasses, black bangs, a straight and serious mouth - a little girl cartoon. With my heart pinned to my father's sleeve'
Someone begins on the stoop of a Brooklyn apartment building where Marie is waiting for her father to come home from work. It is the 1920s and in her Irish-American enclave the stories of her neighbours unfold before her short-sighted eyes. There is war -blinded Billy Corrigan and foolish, ill-fated Pegeen - and her parents' legendary Syrian-Irish marriage - the terrifying Big Lucy, and the ever-present Sisters of Charity from the convent down the road.
As the years pass Marie's own history plays out against the backdrop of a changing world. Her older brother Gabe leaves for the seminary to study for the priesthood, his faith destined to be tested to breaking point. Marie experiences first love - and first heartbreak - marriage and motherhood, and discovers how time can reveal us all to be fools and dreamers, blinded in one way or another by hope, loss or the exigencies of life and love.
One life in all its devastating pains and unexpected joys; its bursts of brilliant clarity and moments of profound confusion. Fragments of a curious childhood, of adolescent sexual awakenings, of motherhood and, finally, old age are pieced together in this resonant story of an unremarkable, unforgettable woman.