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The Lost Mother by Mary McGarry Morris

The Lost Mother (2005)

by Mary McGarry Morris

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This is the heartbreaking account told by 13 year old Thomas during the Depression era. He lives in Vermont in a tent in the woods with his dad and his younger sister Margaret after his mother leaves to "seek a better job elsewhere."

A perfect example of how children interpret the mysteries of adults. With what little information his dad has told him as to why his mother left his innocence paints a different story than the truth and he is determined to find his mother, either to bring her home or to go live with her. Life for Thomas and his sister have not been easy while in their father's care who seems to be on a streak of bad luck. When they are informed their dad had to leave for temporary out-of-town job they are passed from house to house. At first they are happy at each place once they are warm and fed but each household reveals their skeleton and ultimately making it impossible for the children to stay.

Mary McGarry Morris does a superb job in depicting Thomas's emotional, frustrating and painful experience as he finds his way to the truth. Definitely my favorite to date that I've read by this author. I would recommend this book for those who appreciate thoughtful reading.

How I acquired this book: Barnes & Noble clearance shelf

Shelf Life: Approximately 3 years. ( )
  missjomarch | Jan 29, 2016 |
Best described in this review:
“A perfectly lovely book about perfectly awful things . . . The Lost Mother is the quietest, subtlest novel that ever kept me up into the small hours of the night, unable to look away.” —The Washington Post
( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Best described in this review:
“A perfectly lovely book about perfectly awful things . . . The Lost Mother is the quietest, subtlest novel that ever kept me up into the small hours of the night, unable to look away.” —The Washington Post
( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
great, wonderful reader. all characters very irritating, but an interesting portraiT OF LOVE. disappointed father doesn't know how to express his love. mother is so damaged she can't love. boy narrator is so angry he can't make good decisions. ( )
  mahallett | Aug 25, 2013 |
Comparisons run wild in the world of art. Music labels try to convice eager listeners that they have discovered the next U2. Galleries are filled with the paintings of the next Picasso. And every publisher in the world has the next Harry Potter in the works. If a comparison can be made, it is exploited.
I'd like to say that I am beyond such corporate trickery. Unfortunately, everytime I come across "the next [insert favorite band, artist, author here]" I find myself disappointed. Sometimes they're okay, maybe even good, but great? Never. Nothing ever compares to the artist who opened my eyes to a new world.
I should have known better when the first sentence in the jacket of Mary McGarry Morris' most recent novel compared her to John Steinbeck. Of course she wouldn't be Steinbeck. None of my favorite authors are Steinbeck, so why would I expect Ms. Morris to be? Having this comparison in mind from the onset of my reading, however, made it difficult to dismiss.
I can see how the connection was made: the plot of The Lost Mother is similar in nature to some of Steinbeck's novels. It is the story of a stressed mother who leaves her husband and two children to distance herself from all she hates about rural living. The Depression happens and the family loses everything. Of course it only gets worse with corruption, imprisonment, and tons of disappoinment. And just like Steinbeck, there is that ray of hope that shines through despite everything. But the plot is the only element that can be compared.
Morris' writing style is quite dry. It is simple—no more than a narrative of an event with few extra words or insights. Despite its promise, The Lost Mother barely touched upon my emotions or my logic.
The Lost Mother is not for those who like a like-hearted read. It's also not for those who wish to be challenged. It is for that rare breed who enjoys a somber story, but doesn't wish to be provoked: a rare audience indeed.
For more reviews, visit TheLiterarySnob.com. ( )
  chrisblocker | Mar 30, 2013 |
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They said it was bad for everyone, but nobody else the boy knew had to live in the woods.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143036459, Paperback)

Since the publication of her astonishing debut, Vanished, Mary McGarry Morris has been compared with John Steinbeck and Carson McCullers and widely praised as “a superb storyteller” (The Washington Post) and “one of our finest American writers” (The Miami Herald). Now, in her sixth novel, Morris has achieved new heights with her riveting chronicle of the Talcotts, a family in rural Vermont during the Great Depression.

Abandoned by his beautiful wife, Irene, Henry and their two young children, Thomas and Margaret, spend that summer in a tent on the edge of Black Pond. Henry, an itinerant butcher, struggles to provide for them, but often must leave them alone as he travels the county in search of work. And while Henry loves his children deeply, he is devastated by their mother’s desertion. He has not told them why she left or if she’ll return. When Mrs. Phyllis Farley, a prosperous neighbor, begins to woo the children as companions for her strange, housebound son, Henry must weigh an unusual proposition, the consequences of which may cost him everything. Powerfully imagined and intensely felt, The Lost Mother is a haunting masterwork and McGarry Morris’s strongest novel to date.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:26 -0400)

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Enduring the Great Depression from within a tent during a Vermont summer, Henry struggles to support his two young children and considers a proposition from a wealthy neighbor, who would hire the children as companions for her homebound son.

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