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Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
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Sacred Time

by Ursula Hegi

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266861,261 (3.5)16

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The story opens in an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx in the 1950s. Our narrator is a young boy named Anthony who is frustrated when his cousins and aunt move into his cramped apartment over the holidays. The story morphs into something new as our narrator changes to Anthony’s mother and then to his aunt Leonora, then his cousin. The book covers three time periods as well; first the ‘50s, then the ‘70s, and finally the early 2000s.

We watch as the family grows and changes over the course of those decades. We see how a single event can resonate throughout the lives involved. Each of the stories ties the whole picture together, giving a wide and wonderful look at what makes a family a family. How we are able to both hurt and help each other so much more when we are connected by blood.

I really enjoyed every second of this book. It’s not that the story itself is particularly startling; it’s that the characters are so beautifully drawn. They feel like they could be people from our own families. They struggle with the same hurts and unhappiness and guilt that plague us all from time to time.

BOTTOM LINE: What begins as a simple coming-of-age story quickly becomes a powerful look at family dynamics. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this one and I will be searching out more work from this author.

p.s. I listened to the audio version and it was excellent!

“Some days being sure only meant you had to double check, because if you didn’t, everything else would come undone.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Dec 12, 2012 |
Hegi is a highly rated author and I picked this book up while browsing in a used book store. It follows an Italian family through roughly three generations and is well written, gritty in places, with Hegi's run-on thoughts in places and great character development. Having said that, I'm not sure the point of the novel aside from the treatment of family secrets and guilt. A good book, but not a great one and certainly worth reading for Hegi fans. ( )
  mldavis2 | Nov 8, 2012 |
This well-written book takes a look at the complexities of family life and the ramifications that one event (albeit a tragic one) can have on the family dynamics. The story is divided into four parts, each told by a different member of the family. This works exceptionally well with the audio version where a different reader is used for each part. I would highly recommend this moving work. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Oct 17, 2010 |
While the opening young boy's point of view does not seem particularly fresh, the book takes a sharp turn at the end of this section. The ripple effects of this tragic occurrence are explored in the life of the many characters, though, as it turns out, the ripple effects actually lead back in time. The quest for the primary trauma is always interesting. I did feel that the love story section in which two characters who had a "love at first sight" moment thirty years in the past actually start things up years later was a bit too much romantic twaddle. If I had a dime for every love at first sight moment I've had in my life... ( )
  robinamelia | Jun 8, 2009 |
The audio version makes you see the characters--even their facial expressions as they relate to each other. A tragic event changed everything for the members of this extended family in so many ways. I was particularly fascinated with the descriptions of Anthony's thoughts as a young boy leading up to the event and also with Leonora and her thoughts as she lay dying with her family around her. ( )
  nyiper | Jul 24, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743255992, Paperback)

The bestselling author of Stones from the River delivers her most ambitious and dramatic novel yet -- the unforgettable story of an endearing, but also flawed, Italian American family.

In December 1953 Anthony Amedeo's world is nested in his Bronx neighborhood, his parents' Studebaker, the Paradise Theater, Yankee Stadium -- and in his imagination, where he longs for a stencil kit to decorate the windows like all the other kids on his street. Instead he gets a very different present: his uncle Malcolm's family.

Malcolm is in jail for stealing -- once again -- from his latest new job, and Anthony's aunt and twin cousins settle into the Amedeos' fifth-floor walk-up. Sharing a room with girls is excruciating for Anthony, despite his affinity for the twins. But the real change in Anthony's life comes one evening when he causes the unthinkable to happen, changing each family member's life forever.

Evoking all the plenty and optimism of postwar America, Sacred Time spans three generations, taking us from the Bronx of the 1950s to contemporary Brooklyn. Keenly observing the dark side of family -- and its gracefulness -- Hegi has outdone herself with this captivating novel about childhood's tenderness and the landscape of loneliness. Ultimately she reveals how the transforming power of a singular event can reverberate through a family for generations. With gravity and poise, Hegi turns her astute yet forgiving eye on the essential frailty and dignity of the human condition in this elegant and fast-paced novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:22 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"On December 1953 Anthony Amedeo's world is nested in his Bronx neighborhood, his parents' Studebaker, the Paradise Theater, Yankee Stadium - and in his imagination, where he longs for a stencil kit to decorate the windows like all the other kids on his street. Instead he gets a very different present: his uncle Malcolm's family." "Malcolm is in jail for stealing - once again - from his last new job, and Anthony's aunt and twin cousins settle into the Amedeos' fifth-floor walk-up. Sharing a room with girls is excruciating for Anthony, despite his affinity for the twins. But the real change in Anthony's life comes one evening when he causes the unthinkable to happen, changing each family member's life forever."."Evoking all the plenty and optimism of postwar America, Sacred Time spans three generations, taking us from the Bronx of the 1950s to contemporary Brooklyn. Observing the dark side of family as well as its gracefulness, Hegi has outdone herself with this novel about childhood's tenderness and the landscape of loneliness. Ultimately she reveals how the transforming power of a singular event can reverberate through a family for generations."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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