Interesting family dynamic. Very intense characters and growing pains for each generation. A long summer and all that happens, life, love, happiness, sadness and death. Such is life in all it's glory. Very interesting book/
Also a great book. Quindlen is a great author, and this book is no exception. It is told through the eye of a 13 year old just on the brink of becoming an adult. This book will remind you of what is was to still have the wonder of a child but see the world with adult eyes.
This was a quick read and a pleasant story. Though most of the reviews I read before I got the book talked about the lessons of growing up learned by the child in the book, it was the combination of the child's experience with the parents' realization that we're always growing up that I found intriguing.
Set in the 1960's, "Object Lessons" concerns three generations of a rich Irish clan who live in an established inner suburb of New York City....The patriarch, John Scanlan, is a lively figure....One of his sons, Tom, rebels by marrying a handsome, lower-class Italian girl. It is their daughter Maggie who is trying desperately to master some object lessons during her 12 year old summer.....Quindlen is at her best writing about the dislocations of growing up, the blows a child does not see coming.
From Publishers Weekly
Readers of her "Life in the 30s" column in the New York Times (collected in Living Out Loud ) know Quindlen as an astute observer of family relationships. Her first novel is solid proof that she is equally discerning and skillful as a writer of fiction. To sensitive Maggie Scanlan, the summer when she turns 13 is "the time when her whole life changed." Aware that her father, Tommy, had outraged the wealthy Scanlan clan by marrying the daughter of an Italian cemetery caretaker, Maggie is a bridge between her "outcast" mother and her grandfather, whose favorite she is. Domineering, irascible, intolerant John Scanlan looks down on both Pope John XXII and President Kennedy for deviating from traditional Catholic doctrine. His iron hand crushes his wife and grown children, and when he decides that Maggie's parents and their soon-to-be-five offspring should move from their slightly shabby Irish Catholic Bronx suburb to a large house in Westchester which he has purchased for them, tension between her parents escalates and Maggie's loyalties are tested. But other unexpected events--her grandfather's stroke, her mother's attraction to a man of her own background, her best friend's defection, her first boyfriend--serve both to unsettle Maggie and to propel her across the threshold to adulthood. Quindlen's social antennae are acute: she conveys the fierce ethnic pride that distinguishes Irish and Italian communities, their rivalry and mutual disdain. Her character portrayal is empathetic and beautifully dimensional, not only of Maggie but of her mother, who experiences her own wrenching rite of passage. This absorbing coming-of-age novel will draw comparisons with the works of Mary Gordon, but Quindlen is a writer with her own voice and finely honed perceptions. .
From School Library Journal
This first novel is an insightful family chronicle, an informed commentary on the '60s, and the coming-of-age depiction of a mother and daughter. As 13-year-old Maggie struggles with her identity within the boisterous Scanlan clan, her mother also finds her own place within the patriarchal family that has never accepted her. Both women experience rites of passage during the fateful summer that a housing development is being built behind their home, infringing on their emotional and physical spaces. A fast-paced plot involves small fires set in the development by Maggie's friends and romantic tension between her mother and a man from her past. Readers will appreciate Maggie's dilemmas as she grapples with peer pressure and sexual bewilderment, and as she begins to understand her mother, whose discontent oddly parallels her own.