People Are Saying…
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“In Quickening, get ready to meet a quirky and poignant heroine who will grab you from the first page and won’t let you go. Love, grief, loss, confusion, the search for identity–it’s all here, and it all feels fresh and new. Laura Brown is a terrific new writer who shoots straight from the heart.”
—Dani Shapiro, author of Slow Motion
“The heroine of this remarkable novel may have to wait for her quickening, but for the reader, happily, it begins on the opening page. Laura Catherine Brown writes with remarkable authenticity about the struggles and setbacks of crossing into adult life. This is a terrific debut.”
—Margot Livesey, author of The Missing World and Criminals
“Laura Brown eschews the trendy, the glitzy, and the experimental and goes straight for the heart with her tender portrayal of an impoverished upstate New York teenager fumbling over the first steps of adulthood. She has a gift for writing scenes that are sharp, poignant, and suspenseful. And she excels in creating characters who are weak and even cruel and yet achingly sweet. Mandy Boyle’s determination, her unwillingness to abandon hope, and her generosity of spirit make Quickening a grace-ful and uplifting read.”
—Douglas Glover, author of Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon
From School Library Journal
In this coming-of-age novel, 19-year-old Mandy takes charge of her life. Her father is an unsuccessful man and a poor provider, but he is supportive and devoted to his only daughter. Her mother’s ill health is real, but she resists all attempts to improve it. The woman is a nag and a constant drain on her daughter. Arriving at college with her father, Mandy perceives anew his awkward peculiarities and how different he is from the other parents. However, her roommate proves to be just what Mandy needs, offering her congenial encouragement. Her father’s sudden death and her mother’s demands precipitate a departure from school, and the deadliness of her home situation propels her into a romance with an amiably appreciative loser. She departs with him for New York City, where she becomes aware of the possibility of a better life and a career in photography, and recognizes the limitations of both the young man she is living with and her mother. Thus, she begins to assume self-responsibility. This realization that she can control her future should strike a chord in many young people.-Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
From Library Journal
Going away to college usually brings a mix of hope and fear. For Miranda (Mandy) Boyle, the emotions are more complicated. First, she is confronted with last-minute guilt brought on by the real and imagined illnesses of her mother. Then, when her father stops off at his favorite bar on their way to the college, she feels the anxieties of being a scholarship student who is out of place on a campus of worldly students. Despite this uneasy beginning, Mandy begins to define a new place for herselfDuntil her father’s death shatters her world. Numbed by her grief and her anger at her mother, Mandy tumbles into a love affair that can only provide a temporary cushion. Reminiscent of Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone (LJ 5/1/92), Brown’s novel realistically captures the tension between family myths and realities and sympathetically renders the coming-of-age experience of learning what to let go of and what to keep. Recommended for fiction collections. DJan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC
From Kirkus Reviews
A…character study of a 19-year-old girl whose plans for her life gradually fall apart. Honor student Mandy Boyle has just won a college scholarship, and she happily envisions the endless possibilities of life away from her stifling parents and small New York State hometown. Though she has a tender (and touching) relationship with her father, she can hardly blind herself to the fact that he’s a drunk and a loaf-about, horribly henpecked by Mandy’s mother. Mrs. Boyle is a rare piece of work: chronically ill with lupus, anxiety disorders, and asthma, she’s also terminally disillusioned, which leads her to sexually abuse Mandy. Daughter and father retreat to the basement, where they work on projects and discuss philosophy, or they shuffle to the local bar, where Mandy studies and Dad gets drunk. Finally able to leave this behind, Mandy thrives at college until her father suddenly dies. Although she defies her mother, who wants her to quit school and get a job at the local department store, Mandy flounders when she returns to college after the funeral. She begins skipping classes, alienating friends, and spending most of her days in bed getting high. She wants someone to save her, but unfortunately the only candidate who presents himself is Booner, a drainage-cleaner living in Queens. Mandy drops out of school, moves in with him, smokes more pot, and gets a secretarial job. Her downward spiral is quick and all too plausible, as her once-bright future is reduced to waiting for Booner to come home from work. When it seems things couldn’t get worse, they do: Mandy gets pregnant, and Booner becomes frighteningly possessive…Brown thoughtfully illustrates how a smart girl can make bad decisions…A…debut that…shows considerable promise.