When I started this book, I had no expectations. But I was immediately intrigued by the story. The topic is uncomfortable at times, but the writing is good and keeps you interested. A deep psychological book with insights/thoughts that made me think.
I didn't have any expectations going into this book but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a simple, quick read but definitely kept you interested because you wanted to know what happened next. It's a good story about a disconnected mother/daughter relationship -- I enjoyed it!
A moving story of a mother and daughter comming to terms with their lives, finding unsuspected nobility in themselves and unexpected kindness in others. A powerful novel that deals with sexual secrets and exploitation.
An amazing read! Takes place around the early 1970s, but reads as if it were today. Isabelle is a single mom raising 16 year old Amy in a small, gossipy mill town. The two have a common mother/daughter relationship of sometimes love and sometimes hate. The book starts out looking at the lives of the two, but slowly branches out to include many of the women in the town.
Strout has a gift for developing characters that are so complete you wonder if they actually exist. Everyone has their flaws and strengths, and as the early foreshadowing reveals itself throughout the book, you find yourself sympathizing and being frustrated with many of the characters.
The heart of the book is Amy's awakening sexuality and the secrets that daughters keep from their mothers. While this has been written about before and will be written about until the end of time, Strout takes the familiar and uses it to force Isabelle to examine her own life and choices, leading her down a new path she didn't even realize was there.
Another thing I liked about this book was the stories within the stories. What at first may seem disjointed and a simple passing observation will later become a major conflict or plot change. In a lesser writer's hands, these would have been convenient fall backs to get to the end of the book, but with Strout, you feel like she crafted a puzzle and has carefully chosen what pieces you will see and when. It's not until the end of the book when you can step back and see the entire picture.
This isn't a happy book, it's not a tear inducing tragedy, but instead it's a beautifully crafted piece of realistic fiction. Highly recommended!
A well-written tale of the relationship between a mother and daughter as the daughter becomes sexually aware and interested and the mother fights an internal battle against her own sexual secrets. The characters come alive well. The writing is flowing and subtle. The "secrets" are pretty easy to spot, though.
This one was just okay for me. I didn't really like Isabelle's character as I could not get how she could be so naive about life when she herself had experienced the very same things as an adolescent herself, as her daughter Amy. And, I never connected with any of the characters. Short, easy read though.
There was something missing in this story of a mother and a daughter. Overall, the plot was predictable. There were no startling revelations. And the characters' isolation was so profound that even the reader felt cut off from them. The era was unclear - though described as the early seventies, it felt like it could be any time in a small town. The only true-to-life thing was Isabelle's rich fantasy life. And the background story of the summer of a kidnapping went grossly unresolved. All in all, I was disappointed that the conclusion wasn't stronger and because of that, was disappointed in the novel as a whole.
Amy and Isabelle offers up a moving yet resolutely unsentimental portrait of people coming to terms with their lives, finding unsuspected nobility in themselves and unexpected kindness in others along the way.
I listened to this book on CD. Somewhat enjoyable, I found it mostly too racy for me. While I know the relationship in the book is meant to make you uncomfortable, I thought the author pushed it a little bit too far.
Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, Thomas Robertson. What passes for a while as just a simple high school girl's secret crush, crosses from fantasy into reality when Thomas and Amy begin a secret love affair with each other. When this emotional and physical trespass is discovered, it brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies Isabelle's feelings of shame about her own past.
Mother and daughter - whose relationship was initially extremely close - suffers an almost physical blow, as both Amy and Isabelle retreat into icy silence towards each other. Amid the minor problems faced by many of the citizens in Shirley Falls, Maine, Amy and Isabelle have a more private misery: a seemingly unbridgeable chasm has opened up between them and nothing will ever be the same again.
I thought that this was a wonderful book, a superlative book. The characters were entirely believable and the book was written with incredible feeling and attention to detail. In my opinion, Elizabeth Strout did an excellent job in getting into her characters heads and describing their motivations. I give this book an A+! and have placed two more books by Elizabeth Strout - Abide With Me and Olive Kitteridge on my Wish List.
A book I really got into the characters. The writer draws you in with the complexities of a mother & daughters life. I wouldn't rate if five stars, but a three. Would make a good book for a book club discussion.
This book was just okay.What mother and teen daughter don't have that hate love relationship with each other at times.Thats exactly what this book was about.The teen girl was rebellious but the mom wasn't perfect either.They each had their own set of problems.But in the end they came to realize there not that different after all as they thought they were.
I decided to read Amy & Isabelle after reading Olive Kitteridge for book club. I found this to be a better book and is the story of a mother and daughter in a struggling relationship. Well written and held my interest until the end.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the love between a mother and her daughter. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality. When discovered, this emotional and physical trespass brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies the shame she feels about her own past. In a fury, she lashes out at her daughter's beauty and then retreats into outraged silence. Amy withdraws, too, and mother and daughter eat, sleep, and even work side by side but remain at a vast, seemingly unbridgeable distance from each other. This conflict is surrounded by other large and small dramas in the town of Shirley Falls -- a teenage pregnancy, a UFO sighting, a missing child, and the trials of Fat Bev, the community's enormous (and enormously funny and compassionate) peacemaker and amateur medical consultant.
A much talked about first novel that explores the secrets that jeopardize the love between a mother and her daughter.
FROM THE CRITICS
If you read one book all year, let it be this exquisite first novel.
Unflaggingly engaging...What a pleasure to gain entry into the world of this book.
Lovely, powerful. Newsweek
Strout's insights into the complex psychology between [mother and daughter] result in a poignant tale about two comings of age.
Vanessa V. Friedman
...[I]n Strout's sure hands[the central revelatory] truth isn't awful butin factrevelatory. Entertainment Weekly
"In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her 16-year old daughter, a fierce mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every single glance. That they eat, sleep and work side by side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls only increases the tension. And just when it appears things can't get any worse, Amy's sexuality begins to unfold, causing a vast and icy rift between mother and daughter that will remain unbridgeable unless Isabelle examines her own secretive and shameful past." (From back)