Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Tassie is a college student in the months after the 9/11 attack. She needs a job (Dad is a semi-retired potato farmer) and answers an ad to be a "child care provider." The family does not yet have a child...Sarah is hoping to adopt. Tassie travels with Sarah and Edward to several potential adoptees and the family finally adopts Emmie, a beautiful biracial 2 year old. But something is seriously wrong with this family...there is a lack of warmth and affection which Tassie tries to fill while juggling school, a new boyfriend, friends and her own family. As this intricate story unfolds, Tassie learns much about families, about war, about love, about racism.

Tassie is a character you won't ever forget. She has an instinct for love, even in the face of hate, betrayal, and death. And the other characters in this novel are complex and very human. Finally, this is one of the funniest novels I've read recently. The humor is dry and keeps you on your toes as a reader. Here's a sample: "The heel end of another loaf [of bread], weeks old, was sitting on the counter in a plastic bag with what looked like a snake inside: a coil of mold with orange and black markings. It was the Frugal Girls' Museum of Modern Art."

A seriously fine book.

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