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The center of winter
Marya Hornbacher
Adult Fiction HORNBACHE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

"When someone killed himself, it was a waste. No one ever said so, but we knew. My father will kill himself. It will be a waste," says Kate Schiller, recalling her gloomy early years from the vantage point of adulthood. In this moving, occasionally maudlin, debut novel by the author of the memoir Wasted, the Schiller family of smalltown Motley, Minn., is plagued by death: the suicide of six-year-old Kate's Aunt Rose, who hangs herself from the chandelier, is town gossip, and Kate's father, Arnold, is heading toward a similar end. He's unemployed, a charming drunk, obsessed with the descent of Kate's older brother, 12-year-old Esau, into mental illness. When Esau must be taken away to the state hospital at Christmas, Arnold shoots himself in the head. Hornbacher's novel, narrated in the alternating voices of Kate, Esau and their mother, Claire, is the story of the family's response to Arnold's death: how sweet, tormented Esau copes with the news; whether stubborn Kate could have said something to stop her father; how Claire deals with the guilt of having wanted to leave her husband. Hornbacher is a gifted writer, skilled at capturing the intense sensations of childhood and possessed of a particular talent for dialogue, but the indiscriminate ratcheting up of emotion and large doses of wise-child winsomeness give the novel a precious edge. Agent, Sydelle Kramer at the Frances Goldin Literary Agency. 8-city author tour. (Feb. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The Schillers seem like such a nice family-there's precocious six-year-old Kate, 12-year-old Esau, and parents Claire and Arnold. They live in Motley, MN (pop. 442), where Claire, a transplant from down South, is treated with some reserve but given the benefit of the doubt. It is 1969, and for Kate and her best buddy, Davey, the world is a continually amazing place. But life is not all that it seems. Arnold spends most of his days with a drink in hand; he's worried because Esau hears voices and suffers long bouts of sadness as well as vivid dreams. Eventually, Esau must be placed in an institution, and after a particularly traumatic visit, Arnold takes his own life-leaving the devastated Claire to explain his death to their children. Luckily, she has a good support system, from Davey's mom to Arnold's parents, whose daughter Rose also killed herself. Despite the gloomy themes, Hornbacher's debut novel is one of triumph and survival. The narrative unfolds through the interweaving voices of Kate, Claire, and Esau, with each character exquisitely drawn. The author of the acclaimed memoir Wasted has created a gripping tale of a family that copes despite the odds. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/04.]-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Claire Schiller
Her husband recently commited suicide.

Esau Schiller
Age: 12
Claire's son; has been in and out of state psychiatric hospitals.

Kate Schiller
Age: 6
Claire's daughter; precocious.

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