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When We Get There by Shauna Seliy
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When We Get There (edition 2008)

by Shauna Seliy

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495238,224 (4.12)9
Member:twopairsofglasses
Title:When We Get There
Authors:Shauna Seliy
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover
Collections:contemporary/ literary
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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When We Get There: A Novel by Shauna Seliy

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Showing 5 of 5
The writing in this book is wonderful. The author is able to create vivid images in just a few words -- the style often reminded me of Alice Munro's, which is high praise indeed.

Lucas is a 13 year old whose mother has disappeared. He is surrounded by his extended family and members of the Croatian community in the mining town of Banning. We watch Lucas grow up with stories of the old days and old ways, while worrying about his mother and her violent ex-boyfriend determined to find her.

The author gives us a good picture of life in a mining town in the 1970s. Most families have been touched by the death of a miner; immigrants stick together; old people become ill; and women with few choices in their lives disappear. Lucas struggles to make sense of it all and find his way in the world. Very well done! ( )
  LynnB | Oct 31, 2013 |
Lucas Lessar is 13, and it is 1974 in coal country in Pennsylvania. Lucas' father was killed in the coal mines, and his mother has disappeared. But he is surrounded by a large Russian and Croatian family --his grandmother, his great aunts and uncles, and most especially his great grandfather whose stories fill up and give meaning to every inch of the land around him. This book is full of wonderful spare prose; sly humor; an incredible sense of place; Russian myths and stories; growing pains; and incredible images that will stay with you like all those bottles on Greatgrandfather's pear tree, shining in the late sun. ( )
  twopairsofglasses | Dec 23, 2012 |
Lucas Lessar has a lot going on in his life. His mother has disappeared, leaving behind only a note that Lucas is not to try to find her. Lucas' father is dead, having been killed by an explosion in the King mine he worked in. Lucas' grandmother, 'Slats', is determined to keep an eye on him while Lucas' great grandfather is not doing well on the farm, health wise. Surrounded by his great Aunts and Uncles and the old world ways of his Eastern European heritage, Lucas is trying to make sense of his world in the mining town of Banning, Pennsylvania, which isn't always easy when you are only thirteen years old. If that isn't enough, Zoli, his mother's estranged and obsessive boyfriend, is determined that the family knows where Lucas' mother has gone, and stalks Lucas for the answer.

Set in the winter of 1974 and told from the POV of Lucas, the story ties together his search for his mother, his friendship with Walter, the son of the local Croatian club owner as well as memories of the stories Lucas has heard his family tell of life in the old country and the boom and then bust of the mining business of the surrounding area. At times, it is surprising to remember that Lucas is only thirteen as he tries to deal with the family problems. At other times, frustration at struggling to understand the events occurring around him surfaces in acts of confusion and anger.

I really enjoyed this story and was rather surprised how quickly I finished it. The author does a great job of weaving a tale that hits an emotional and memorable chord. ( )
  lkernagh | Apr 6, 2010 |
This was such a great book! The author really gets you to hope and wish and wonder along with the characters. Loved it! ( )
  MsLadyGirl | Apr 21, 2008 |
The story of a strong family set in a coal mining town in Pennsylvania in the 70s. I found this one challenging at times, and lovely at times. I loved the image of the bottles slipped over the buds on the pear tree, so the pears would grown inside the bottles (and later be used for pear brandy) and how the tree always looked to be made of glass, and it clinked in the wind. I liked how the characters, for the most part, took care of one another. Still, it was a hard read, and at times I wanted to quit. I'm glad I didn't, but it would have to be just the right sort of person, to get a recommendation for this book from me. ( )
  meteowrite | Apr 1, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
With these stories of loss and migration, Seliy lyrically evokes Banning’s darker side, how the cloying small town can suffocate a free spirit.
 
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We're troubadours because we've learned from the burrs of plague and war: life on earth is brief, keen incendiary - CYRUS CASSELLS "Guitar"
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For my family
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I was greasing the cookie sheets, watching my grandmother and her sisters do shots of whiskey and feed each other moonshine cherries, when Zoli came into the house, pressed his hand against my throat, and whispered that he would kill me dead if I didn't tell him where my mother was.
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"Over the course of one winter in 1974, in the coal-mining town of Banning, Pennsylvania, the youngest member of a large and boisterous Eastern European family takes it upon himself to find his mother, who has recently disappeared without explanation." "Lucas, an only child whose father died in a coal-mine blast, lives with the legacy of loss. Despite his heavy inheritance, Lucas is just a curious thirteen-year-old trying to make sense of the world around him. He shuttles between the homes of his family elders, whose old-world ways he can't quite understand. He explores the industrial detritus of the town's defunct mines. He befriends the son of the local Croatian club owner." "When Zoli, Lucas's mother's estranged boyfriend, comes back into the picture, violence and retribution escalate until no one, especially Lucas, is safe. As Lucas struggles to find his place in this unsettling landscape, his extended family and close-knit ethnic community circle around him."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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