by Francine Prose


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Goldengrove is an emotionally powerful novel about adolescent love and loss from Francine Prose, the New York Times bestselling author of Reading Like a Writer and A Changed Man. Focusing on a young girl facing the consequences of sudden loss after the death of her sister, this masterful coming-of-age work is radiant with the possibility of summer and charged by the restless sexual tension of teenage life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060560027
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/08/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 831,977
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Francine Prose is the author of twenty-one works of fiction, including Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim, a Fulbright, and a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, she is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

April 1, 1947

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York


B.A., Radcliffe College, 1968

Read an Excerpt

A Novel

Chapter One

We lived on the shore of Mirror Lake, and for many years our lives were as calm and transparent as its waters. Our old house followed the curve of the bank, in segments, like a train, each room and screened porch added on, one by one, decade by decade.

When I think of that time, I picture the four of us wading in the shallows, admiring our reflections in the glassy, motionless lake. Then something—a pebble, a raindrop—breaks the surface and shatters the mirror. A ripple reaches the distant bank. Our years of bad luck begin.

That was how Margaret would have thought. My sister was the poet.

I was Miss One-Thing-After-the-Next. Which is how I remember what happened.

But that's not how it happened at all. One thing happened, then everything else, like a domino falling and setting off a collapse that snakes out toward the horizon and spills over into the future.

If all the clocks and calendars vanished, children would still know when Sunday came. They would still feel that suck of dead air, that hollow vacuum created when time slips behind a curtain, when the minutes quit their orderly tick and ooze away, one by one. Colors are muted, a jellylike haze hovers and blurs the landscape. The phone doesn't ring, and the rest of the world hides and conspires to pretend that everyone's baking cookies or watching the game on TV. Then Monday arrives, and the comforting racket starts up all over again.

Even before that Sunday, I was glad to see the day end. It wasn't that I liked school so much, but the weekends lasted forever. The loneliness, the hours to fill with books, homework,computer, watching old films with my sister, if she was in the mood. Silence, then the Sunday sounds of our house by the lake. My mother playing the piano, my dad's prehistoric Selectric.

That Sunday, that first Sunday in May, was so warm I couldn't help wondering: Was it simply a beautiful day, or a symptom of global warming? Even the trees looked uncomfortable, naked and embarrassed, as if they were all simultaneously having that dream in which you look down and realize you've forgotten to put on your clothes.

Two Cleopatras in our royal barge, my sister and I reclined and let our little rowboat drift out onto the lake. Margaret arched her shoulders, flung one arm over the side, and trailed her fingertips in the water. It was one of those actressy gestures she'd copied from the classic black-and-white movies to which she was addicted. She liked me to watch them with her, and we were allowed to stay up, because our mother said we would learn more from Some Like It Hot than from a year of school. It was often hard to tell what our mother meant, exactly, except that we learned to flutter our lashes and say, "What's a girl to do?" in breathy little-girl whispers.

One thing Margaret and I had in common was: we could do imitations. We knew whole scenes by heart, like the end of Flying Deuces, when Hardy is killed in a plane crash and then reincarnated as a horse with a black mustache and a bowler hat. Laurel's so happy to see him he throws his arms around Ollie—that is, the horse possessed by Ollie's grumpy spirit.

Sometimes Margaret would do a gesture or line and ask me what film it was from. Her silvery laughter was my prize for getting it right. The only rowboat scene I knew was the one in which Montgomery Clift pushes Shelley Winters into the water. And I was pretty certain that wasn't what Margaret was doing.

Margaret said, "This is heaven."

I wished I could have been like her instead of the kind of person who said, "Don't you ever worry about the polar ice caps melting?"

"Debbie Downer," said Margaret. "Give yourself a break. It's Sunday, Nico. Take a day off." Squinting, she aimed her smoke rings so that they encircled the sun like foggy auras.

Margaret had promised our parents she wouldn't smoke. Mom's parents and Dad's father had all died young of smoking-related causes. Both of our parents used to smoke. Their friends had started dying. The new weapon in the arsenal of Mom and Dad's War on Smoking was some bad news we'd gotten that fall: Margaret had a heart condition. A mild one, but I worried.

She'd fainted the first and last time Mom talked us into doing yoga with her. I still have a photo my father took that day on the lawn, of the three of us doing downward-facing dog or some other mortifying position that, our mother had convinced herself, was helping her arthritis. Margaret, Mom, and I are bent till our heads nearly touch the ground, like those snakes that, Margaret told me, bite their tails and roll after the children they swallow whole. Planted apart for balance, our legs take up most of the photo, downward-facing croquet hoops of descending sizes. What the picture doesn't show is that, seconds after it was taken, Margaret collapsed in a pile of leaves. At first we'd thought she was joking.

Our pediatrician, Dr. Viscott, ran some tests and said that Margaret should eat well, exercise, don't smoke. That stutter on her heart graph was something they'd keep their eye on.

Margaret knew she could smoke around me. Smoking was the least of the things she trusted me to keep secret.

From across the lake, we heard our mother practicing the spooky Chopin waltz that always made me think of ballroom dance music for ghosts. She kept making mistakes and starting over again. She'd wanted to be a pianist, she'd gone to music school, but she changed her plans when she met my dad and they ran off to be hippies. Margaret had found a snapshot of them picking soybeans on a commune in northern California. Long hair, overalls, bandannas, a Jesus beard on Dad.

A Novel
. Copyright © by Francine Prose. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Goldengrove 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
michaelbartley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of a young teenage girl grieving for her older sister. At the end of the school year, the sister drowns and Nico, the main character was the last to see her. The story is of the summer, where she and her family struggle to put their lives back togethier. Not a bad novel, but a little like tv movie where in the end all of them get on with life. A interesting sub plot is the relationship Nico has with the dead sister's boyfriend.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'd allowed myself to drift into that hushed and watery border zone...Is an example of the word pictures created by Francine Prose. This is a story of sadness and loss, grief and discovery. A story told in the voice of Nico, the sister left behind.Nico's family struggles to survive the death of a beloved child. A whimsical, talented and loving girl just beginning to become a woman. The angst of the fear that it could have been prevented if only something were different, or someone had done or not done this or that.To be honest, this is a story that has been told before, but rarely in such a compelling and beguiling way. I read Goldengrove in one sitting. I had to know how it ended for Nico. It is her story.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nicely-written book about a young girl and trying to come to terms with her sister's death. The sister's boyfriend is trying to do the same thing, and they end up in a spooky relationship trying to almost resurrect her. The boy's character changed suddenly in the middle, and he became cruel and weird in a way that didn't quite hold my suspension of disbelief.
fig2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The death of her teenage sister sends 13-year old Nico and her parents into a gigantic tailspin. They are shocked into immobility and pain and turn to dangerous diversions. Nico finds herself submitting to the strange requests of her sister's boyfriend. Francine Prose is a writer of epic proportions and she turns this seemingly depressing story into an exquisite, spare, quiet coming-of-age tale that will stay with you.
msbaba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Francine Prose's latest novel, Goldengrove, is a subtle, quiet, reflective novel about a family's journey through overwhelming grief after the sudden death of the eldest daughter. The novel takes place over the course of one terrible summer. The action focuses on Nico, the surviving daughter, as she battles with grief, depression, and loss of identity¿all at the same time that her body is awakening to its own budding sexuality. Nico is an awkward 13-year old, unsure of who she is, and how her life may unfold. Her identity has always been entwined tightly with that of her three-years-older, beautiful, and talented sister, Margaret. The novel builds suspense as we watch Nico's drift dangerously toward an inappropriate relationship with Aaron, her dead sister's boyfriend. Originally the two come together to help each other deal with their grief, but the relationship turns strange, disturbing, and unhealthy. Many times, I found myself unable to put the book down fearing that Nico was drifting into harm's way.I've enjoyed a number of Francine Prose's novels. A year ago, I reviewed her nonfiction work, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them and I gave that book a strong five-star Amazon rating. Prose is an accomplished writer¿I can count on her to deliver a finely crafted work of literary fiction. That said, I was definitely disappointed with this work. Don't get me wrong: I did enjoy it¿but, for me, it only earned a three-star rating. I felt strongly that something was missing, and it took me a while to figure it out.I've waited for over a week to write this review, I needed to sort out where this book failed me. The writing was excellent; the characterizations, extraordinary¿in fact, I can still conjure up vivid images of the main character, Nico, her mother, father, sister, and a host of other lesser characters. Prose made these people real in my mind, and that is no small accomplishment. The story is not complex¿it is realistic in the extreme, almost pedestrian. That's okay, too. I'm one of those readers who actually yearn for novels with outstanding characterization and slim realistic plots. So what was it that failed me here with this lovely, subtle coming-of-age book about grief and identity? In the end, it was the lack of any deeper meaning¿the lack of overarching revealing themes about the truth of the human condition. The authors tells the story well, but leaves it up to her readers to derive whatever meaning they may discover within the story. In a work of popular fiction, that's okay, but in a work of literary fiction, I expected the author to take greater risks delivering, from within the body of the story, sparkling intellectual depth and insight about human nature. Perhaps my disappointment was exaggerated because I read another books recently with a strikingly similar storyline about a young girl dealing with grief, sexual awakening, and inappropriate relationships¿one that left a far stronger impression on me, and was in many ways in my estimation, a better book. That novel was The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle¿a debut novel that won a solid four-star rating from me. The author's overarching themes about the reality of the human condition at the end of this novel seared their way into my heart and soul¿I found my eyes brimming with tears because of the honesty and clarity of the vision¿and I am one not easily moved by sentiment. I suppose I expected something like this from Prose's book and was deeply disappointed when it was not there.Of special note, Prose does an outstanding job of recreating the progression into and out of psychological depression. But again, for me, the author misses the mark: she gets the description right, but fails to reveal any insight¿there are no stunning interior revelations.Although I enjoyed Goldengrove, I do not recommend it: there are better books being published that deserve your time. But I'll still
rmckeown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My third read by Francine Prose bore some resemblance to Blue Angel, which was a disturbing book for an English professor to read. It involves a sexy, manipulative student who plunges an instructor into a world of chaos. Prose¿s Reading Like a Writer, the first I read, had so much clarity and good sense, it drove me to her fiction. I foresee another dozen titles by Prose on my bookshelves.The narrator, Nico, lives in an idyllic, lake-side cottage with her father, who owns a book store named Goldengrove, her mother -- a piano teacher -- and her sister, Margaret. Margaret has a secret life, and after a tragedy, Nico seems headed into secrets of her own. I felt the same sense of foreboding I experienced with Blue Angel while reading Goldengrove, but her spectacular, lyrical prose has an element of poetry in every line, and that alone drove me on to the tense ending. I underlined numerous wonderful lines, for example: ¿Now we acted as if the tiniest pressure could shatter our eggshell selves¿ (84) and ¿That Sunday, that first Sunday in May, was so warm I couldn¿t help wondering: Was it simply a beautiful day, or a symptom of global warming? Even the trees looked uncomfortable, naked and embarrassed, as if they were all simultaneously having that dream in which you look down and realize you¿ve forgotten to put on your clothes¿ (2). Well, I have had that dream, and I know exactly how Nico feels in this scene.This psychological portrait of a family dealing with loss calls to mind Tolstoy¿s opening line of Anna Karenina. To paraphrase, all members of an unhappy family handle their unhappiness in different ways. However, this book never really strikes a sustained depressing note. 5 stars--Jim, 10/11/09
1morechapter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿to a young child¿Margaret, are you grievingOver Goldengrove unleaving?Leaves, like the things of man, youWith your fresh thoughts care for, can you?Ah! as the heart grows olderIt will come to such sights colderBy & by, nor spare a sighThough worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;And yet you will weep & know why.Now no matter, child, the name:Sorrow¿s springs are the same.Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressedWhat heart heard of, ghost guessed:It is the blight man was born for,It is Margaret you mourn for.¿Gerard Manley HopkinsGrief is such an individual, totally consuming, and heart-wrenching experience ¿ especially when the death is by a young person or is totally unexpected. This book explores the grief process very well. Margaret and Nico are teenage sisters. While Nico generally seeks out her parent¿s approval, Margaret is a little on the wild side. However, that is not what gets her killed. Margaret has a heart problem and ends up drowning in the lake near their home.The story is told from Nico¿s point of view, and about her struggle to get through each day, each month, each year. She worries about her own health and about how her parents are coping with her sister¿s death. She¿s concerned for her sister¿s boyfriend and how he¿s dealing with it. She even endures those around her who try to make her into parts of Margaret instead of herself.Finally, the story ends with an adult Nico writing about how she and her family have recovered from their grief over the years. Although ¿ as anyone knows who has been through it ¿ you never really get over the death of someone close to you.
Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Judith Guest's Ordinary People, two siblings go out on the water but only one returns: the more promising, handsome, and popular brother drowns in a storm, and the rest of the book explores the family dealing with guilt and grief. In Francine Prose's Goldengrove, two siblings go out on the water but only one returns: the more promising, handsome, and popular sister drowns, and the rest of the book explores the family dealing with guilt and grief. So, am I saying been there, done that? Yes, but Goldengrove isn't a bad read, if you're in the mood for this sort of novel. For one thing, it has been over 20 years since Guest's book was first published, and society has changed quite a bit since then. For another, the focus is primarily on 13-year old Nico and her developing relationship with Aaron, her dead sister's boyfriend, who seems to be the only person who really understand how she feels. As in [Ordinary People], Nico's parents prefer not to talk about Margaret's death, but instead of being upscale suburbia types, they are more along the hippie line; Dad runs a used book store called Goldengrove. People start to remark on how much Nico, who has lost considerable weight while grieving, is starting to look like Margaret--which gives an edge to Aaron's interest in her. The book is well written overall, and Prose gives believable voice to the fears and ponderings of a young girl going through the grieiving process at a critical point in her own development.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story begins with the drowning death of Margaret, sister to Nico and girlfriend of Aaron. Everyone deals with death in his own way, but Nico and Aaron have a particularly bizarre way of working through their feelings. What was interesting about this was the psychology of the situation. Was Nico really trying to step into Margaret's shoes? How about Aaron? Was he really trying to turn Nico into Margaret? This was a believable story and a good introduction for me into the writing of Francine Prose. It grabbed me enough to want to seek more of her novels.
chrystal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
About a 13 yr old girl who looses her perfect sister- she drowns because of a heart condition- and the twisted, bizarre relationship she (Nico) has with her sisters boyfriend and how she comes to find herself and the will to move on.
HeidiDenney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pretty heavy and sad but I enjoyed the psychology behind the grief and confusion Nico experiences when her big sister dies and her sister's secret boyfriend starts paying attention to her.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was meant to be an idyllic summer ¿ a summer like all the ones before it. But when thirteen year old Nico¿s older sister Margaret dives into Mirror Lake and never surfaces, everything changes. Set in New England, Goldengrove is the story of that fateful summer. Narrated in the provocative and compelling voice of Nico, the novel reveals the cracks in a family which widen with the tragedy. Nico, on the cusp of womanhood, finds herself floating free without the sage advice of her sister. Nico connects with Margaret¿s boyfriend, the artistic and slightly strange Aaron ¿ a person whom she feels free to share her stories of Margaret and the pain of loss. But Aaron is also struggling with Margaret¿s death¿and in Nico he sees the young woman who he once loved.As the summer slips by, Aaron and Nico¿s relationship inches towards a dangerous conclusion ¿ and Nico must struggle to move from adolescence into adulthood, and come to an understanding of her own needs in the wake of her sister¿s death.Francine Prose¿s novel is that of grief, recovery, and the search for one¿s identity. Tender, yet realistic, Goldengrove explores the impact of suddenly losing a child and a sibling. Although the story is told from Nico¿s point of view, Prose gives the reader a glimpse into the devastation such a loss has on parents.Prose does a remarkable job building her characters. Nico¿s father¿s relationship with his youngest daughter is flawlessly portrayed. Nico clings to her father, wants the connection with him, but also pushes him away as she discovers her own sexuality and desires. Their love of art and reading binds them together, even when everything else seems to be changing.I read this novel late into the night ¿ drawn to Nico and her journey through grief. Prose writes radiantly and with a deep understanding of her characters. If there is a flaw in the novel, it is the ending when Prose lifts the reader away from Mirror Lake and the adolescent Nico, and transports us into Nico¿s life as an adult. I would have preferred the book end on page 264 ¿ still drenched in late summer sun with a hopeful glimpse into the future.Despite this minor complaint, Goldengrove is a book I can recommend for its beautiful writing and tender look at a young girl growing up in the wake of tragedy.
susanbevans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a word, meh - by the way, is "meh" a word? The prose is beautiful and haunting - Goldengrove is an extremely well-written novel. Why then the meh? Well, I just couldn't manage to get involved with any of the characters. Consequently in the end, I was completely unmoved by their story. The plot is bland and just plain disappointing, and the characters were flat as pancakes. Goldengrove completely failed to hit the mark with me.Don't get me wrong, it's not a terrible book. Gracefully and elegantly worded though it may be, it just didn't work for me. Sometimes well-formed sentences and paragraphs cannot save a novel. It took another week out of my life to slog through Goldengrove - and without anything to show for it. I am a very disappointed reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
The Short of It: An unsettling look at what happens to a family when a loved one is suddenly no more. The Rest of It: I've often wondered about death. Death that results from illness is quite different than a death that results from an accident or a sudden heart attack. In this novel, Margaret dies suddenly. Her family has no time to prepare themselves for the loss and for Nico, Margaret's younger sister, it's as if Margaret is there one minute and gone the next. How does a family deal with such a loss? As Nico struggles with her grief, she realizes that Aaron, Margaret's boyfriend is really the only person that understands what she is going through. They form an unlikely friendship which at times seems inappropriate but seeing what these two have been through, and what Margaret meant to them, all I saw were two people in a lot of pain trying desperately to overcome their grief. Francine Prose does a remarkable job of describing what Nico is feeling and although Margaret was not on the page for long, you definitely get a feel for her personality as these characters look back on their moments with her. Many have said that Nico seems older than her thirteen years. This may be true, but to me she came across as an 'old soul' which made her relationship with Aaron a bit easier for me to understand. As Prose takes us through the novel, Nico sees signs that Margaret is still with her. I've always been fascinated by signs. They function as a form of comfort and generally exist to help us through a crisis. Prose does a wonderful job of providing comfort to Nico in the way of signs and whether or not you believe they exist in real life doesn't really matter, because they exist realistically within the novel. I had one small quibble with Aaron. At the beginning of the novel, a comment is made which might lead the reader to think that all is not right with Aaron. As I was reading, I kept waiting for that secret to be revealed but in my opinion nothing was revealed. I felt that his actions were motivated by his loss so perhaps I missed something there. This novel was a very quick read. Once I started it, I could not put it down. The prose was easy to follow and I cared about the characters and what they were going through. This was my first experience with Prose's writing style but it definitely won't be my last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
debbook More than 1 year ago
Goldengrove by Francine Prose Thirteen year old Nico plans to spend the summer with her sister before Margaret leaves for college. But Margaret drowns quietly in the lake and Nico is left stunned and devastated. She is unable to deal with anything that reminds her of Margaret until her sister's boyfriend, Aaron, suggests an experiment, that they together do the things that Margaret loved. Margaret, who could sing "My Funny Valentine" and bring people to tears, who loved jazz, poetry, and old movies. Nico's parents never approved of Aaron, so Nico has to sneak behind their backs. But her mother is busy self-medicating and her father, who owns a bookstore, is writing a book about how cultures imagine the end of the world. But Nico starts to get in over her head with Aaron, and is torn between her sister's identity and her own. Goldengrove is a beautifully written novel dealing with family grief and coming of age. While the plot suggests a depressing read, it isn't in the hands of Prose. It is moving and touching and hopeful. While her parents have their own issues, they are not neglectful and Nico has a very close relationship with her dad. Though their world has been shattered, they do attempt family normalcy. Nico and her dad eat lunch daily, before she goes to work afternoons in Goldengrove, the family bookstore and he discussed his book with her. Margaret had a heart problem and Nico is convinced she does, too and reads medical books while her dad writes, trying to diagnose herself, convinced she is dying. The only thing she looks forward to is spending time with Aaron, reminiscing about Margaret. But Aaron is looking for Nico to be Margaret. Nico is an interesting, sympathetic character, wise beyond her years, coping with a horrible loss. There are no real dramatic moments in this novel, but it is not a slow read. The words are lyrical and poetic. "When I think of that time, I picture the four of us wading in the shallows, admiring our reflections in the glassy, motionless lake. Then something -a pebble, a raindrop- breaks the surface and shatters the mirror. A ripple reaches the distant bank. Our years of bad luck begin." I have never read anything by Francine Prose before and discovered that she has written several novels. I plan to read more works by her in the future. I highly recommend this touching story.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the summer in Mirror Lake in the northeast, seventeen year old Margaret drowns. Her family reacts differently to the accident though each mourns their loss. Her father regrets naming his daughter after a girl who mourns the loss of summer in "Spring and Fall: To a Young Child" by Gerard Manley Hopkins and to escape his grief and remorse turns to end of the world scenarios on the latest book he will never finish. Her younger sister Nico tries to put a scientific spin to her feelings of loss while writing down how she and her parents react; even in death Nico still struggles with understanding her late older sibling's penchant for the dramatic like a poet out of control yet at the same worshiped Margaret's overt confidence. Their mother Daisy turns to pills as she buries her soul with the body of her oldest child. At times Nico notes her parents act like they still have two children at home with conversations as if Margaret will respond. Each grieves the loss differently and separately. Although Nico seems more the adult than her parents, this is a fascinating look at dealing (or not) with the sudden unexpected death of a love one. None of Margaret's family was prepared obviously for the drowning. Although totally a character study with an extremely thin plot, fans will enjoy Francine prose's (great surname for a novelist) fine probing prose of the debilitation caused by hiding in the early phases of grief as if expecting the dead person to reanimate. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
eeh More than 1 year ago
When I began reading this book, I thought that it was good, with developed characters and a tragic beginning. The human experience is interesting, and this novel explores a family's grief through the eyes of a 12 year old girl. I thought that the main character's voice was a bit mature to be a believable 12 year old. BUT the allusions to great films and characters was nice. There is a great appreciation in this novel for the Classic form. I wish there was more plot development, though i think that the major focus was to show how grief affects individuals within a family. So, if you like to read about human drama, and can appreciate a tragic story line, this could be an interesting read for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story was okay, but seemed to simply ramble. I kept waiting for something to happen. The ending was extemely anti-climatic and didn't 'finish' the story me. Felt like the author didn't know what else to say and just ended the story without wrapping it up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has been featured in numerous magazines as a do not miss, memorable novel. I have struggled thru this novel for three weeks & that is really unusual for me. The story jumps around from present to past so the reader has a really hard time understanding the book & where the storyline is going~ (no where it seemed other than a gal depressed over the death of her older sister). I found it sad, depressing and a big let down.