She attended Georgetown Day School. She was educated at Wesleyan University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She presently lives with her family near Boston and has taught at both Harvard University and Wellesley College. She is associate English professor at Boston College.
She currently lives in Boston with her husband and two girls.
Her debut novel, A Crime in the Neighborhood, won Great Britain's prestigious Orange Prize. Told through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl, the book chronicles a child's murder in a sleepy suburb of Washington, D.C. against the backdrop of the unfolding Watergate scandal. A Perfect Arrangement tells of the complex and increasingly disturbing relationship between a normal suburban family and their exceptionally perfect nanny. The Ghost at the Table explores the dramatic territory between two sisters' differing versions of their shared history.