This book is so well written you won't want to put it down. From the first page you're anxious to learn the circumstances behind Ellen's stay in jail! She is a Harvard grad with well-educated parents who is accused of killing her mother. Who did kill her mother? Gradually you'll pick up clues as you learn Ellen's story and how lovingly she cares for her mother during her devastating illness. Her mother is the "one true thing" that holds this family together. This is a story of a young woman who is favored by her remote, austere father but is forced to know and understand her warm, affectionate mother and become her caretaker. At first resenting the role and then defending it fiercly.
I loved this book. It's a rare thing when a book is so engrossing that I can shut out the world around me entirely without any effort. I was lost in the characters from the first chapter. What a writer! I've never read Anna Quindlen before and I'm dying to read some of her other books now. She has a way of making you feel as if you are living in their house with them, absorbing their raw pain, their beauty and despair. I started reading this book to help me slow down on Reading 'Cutting for Stone' because I want to race through it. Instead, I ended up getting so absorbed in the story of One True Thing that I could not put it down long enough to read a chapter or two of CFS. And that's saying a lot because I'm loving CFS. The author knows her characters inside and out and breaths life into each of them. Though the story itself can be a dis-settling subject--I never once felt like I couldn't take such sadness. It's emotional--but well worth the ride
One True Thing is a film starring Meryl Streep as the cancer-stricken homemaker mother, Renee Zellweger as the daughter who quits her top-dog job to care for her, and William Hurt as the chilly professor who lets the women in the family do the heavy emotional lifting dying requires. But the real star of the project remains former New York Times everyday-life columnist Anna Quindlen, who quit her top-dog job to write novels (and who took time off from college to nurse her own dying mother).
Quindlen hit a nerve with One True Thing, which captures an experience seldom dealt with in popular culture. (One exception: the sensitive 1996 film with Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio of the play Marvin's Room.) Though the heroine of One True Thing, Ellen Gulden, is a golden girl with two brothers who'll lose her career the instant she steps off the fast track, society concurs with her dad, who says, "It seems to me another woman is what's wanted here."
The book is a mother-daughter tale that should please fans of, say, The Joy Luck Club. It's not flashy, but it has a deep feel for the way children often discover, just before it's too late, who their parents really are. "Our parents are never people to us," Ellen writes, "they're always character traits.... There is only room in the lifeboat of your life for one, and you always choose yourself, and turn your parents into whatever it takes to keep you afloat." The mercy-killing subplot isn't gripping, but the palpable sense of deepening family intimacy certainly is.