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Child of My Heart (2002)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374121230, Hardcover)Fifteen is a year of clarity; you're still one of the kids, but you're finally beginning to unlock the mysteries of adult behavior. In her luminous novel Child of My Heart, Alice McDermott's narrator is a 15-year-old girl who has two qualities that give her access to the secret lives of adults: she's beautiful, and she looks after their children. Her beauty has already shaped her life. Her parents have moved the family to the east end of Long Island in hopes of finding her a wealthy husband, or at least a fancy crowd to run with. Here she babysits the children of the rich, whose fathers demonstrate their relative decency by making passes at her, or not. The novel spans a dreamy summer as our heroine spends her days with her various charges at the beach, happily leading her crew on home-grown, rather sweet adventures. Among the kids she looks after is a toddler whose father is a famous, aging artist. The narrator's preternatural acuity is apparent in this exchange with a new client: "Mrs. Richardson learned by direct inquiry that I lived in that sweet cottage with the dahlias (interested) and went to the academy (more interested) and babysat for this child of the famous artist (most interested) down the road." Child of My Heart is a pretty straightforward coming-of-age novel, but it's marked throughout by this beautifully honed, wry, knowing tone. McDermott's narrator reminds us that our lost innocence might not have been so innocent after all. --Claire Dederer
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:11 -0400)
"The beautiful child of older parents, raised on the eastern end of Long Island among the summer houses of the rich, Theresa is the town's most sought-after babysitter - cheerful, poised, an effortless storyteller, a wonder with children and animals - but also a solitary soul already attuned to the paradoxes and compromises of adult life. Among her charges this fateful summer is Daisy, her younger cousin, who has left a crowded working-class household in the city to spend a few quiet weeks in this bucolic place, under Theresa's benevolent eye." "While Theresa copes with the challenge presented by the neighborhood's waiflike children, the tumultuous households of her employers, the mysteriously compelling attentions of an aging painter, and Daisy's fragility of body and spirit, her precocious, tongue-in-cheek sense of order is put to the test as she makes the perilous crossing into adulthood."--BOOK JACKET.
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