S weeney's debut novel centers around Miranda Donnal, who grows up on Maine's lonely Crab Island, where her father decides to hunker down and work on his "/>
 

Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking

Aoibheann Sweeney, Author
Aoibheann Sweeney, Author . Penguin Press $21.95 (257p) ISBN 978-1-59420-130-1
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S weeney's debut novel centers around Miranda Donnal, who grows up on Maine's lonely Crab Island, where her father decides to hunker down and work on his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses . Shortly after their arrival from New York, Miranda's mother dies in a boating mishap, leaving Miranda in the care of her withdrawn father, who is content to keep his nose in his books. A half-Indian local fisherman, Mr. Blackwell, becomes something of a father figure to Miranda, taking on an unusually devoted caretaker role—cooking for the Donnals, taking Miranda to school and serving as her confidante. Yet secrecy also shrouds Mr. Donnal and Mr. Blackwell's evolving relationship. When Miranda graduates from high school, her father dispatches her to New York City and a job at the classical studies institute he was molded by. There she begins to peel away myth after myth of the father she thought she knew as she falls in love and has her own revelations about intimacy and connections. Sweeney's prose effortlessly conveys her characters' isolation and evolution, and her portrayal of the aftermath of life's slights—big and small—make this coming-of-age better than most. (July)

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