The Birthdays

Heidi Pitlor, Author
Heidi Pitlor, Author . Norton $23.95 (355p) ISBN 978-0-393-06127-7
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006

On a rainy summer weekend, the Miller clan gathers, for the first time in four years, at their summer house on an island off the coast of Maine to celebrate patriarch Joe's 75th birthday. Oldest son Daniel is in a wheelchair following a cycling accident; his wife, Brenda, is pregnant after having used a sperm donor, about whom Daniel is now obsessed. Younger son Jake, who spent his whole childhood feeling insecure and inferior to his siblings, is now more financially successful than either of them; his wife, Liz, is pregnant with twins following fertility treatments and has no interest in sex. The irresponsible youngest, Hilary, returns from the West Coast, also pregnant—and with no idea who the father is. As their children stand on the verge of becoming parents themselves, Ellen and Joe reflect on the daily heartbreak, tragedies and joys of parenthood, on the impossibility of ever keeping one's children safe. Rich in symbolism and a strong sense of place, Pitlor's debut novel, with its overlapping narrative perspectives, creates a multilayered portrait of family in all its fragility and its strength. (June)

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