Lauren Grodstein, Author . Dial $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-33770-0

Grodstein's first novel (after 2002's collection The Best of Animals ) is a sweet, honest account of the life and loves of 20-something Joel Miller. It's a rainy Saturday, and Miller has just been directed to walk the 12 blocks to the independent drug store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to buy his girlfriend a pregnancy test. The rest of the novel takes place as Miller waits outside the bathroom door for Lisa to reveal the results, all the while pondering past loves and future concerns. There was his father Stan's stiff advice to "Remember the consequences, son " of what he called "the deed"—but here Miller is, living with a long-haired, potentially pregnant third-grade teacher with a broken leg. They are "admirable roommates"; they have regular "brisk, healthy sex." But is it enough? Miller recalls the complicated bonds between his depressed mother, Bay, and his father; he spent his high school years weaving his way through the emotional consequences of his father's departure and his mother's instability. But even more powerfully, Miller recalls his first love, Blair, the Park Avenue beauty whose attentions made him feel like he was "eating chocolate for the first time after a lifetime of bread." But Blair eventually teaches him a wrenching lesson about the truths of love. Grodstein's effortless prose slides forward and back in time, charting universal doubts with both specificity and economy. Her story is modest, but compulsively readable, as her familiar characters—a fumbling father, a sad mother, a confused boy, a fratty best friend and an ice princess—move in paths both inevitable and surprising. Agent, Julie Barer . (July)

Forecast: This book is perfect for the kind of rainy Saturday it describes; readers will find it touching, pleasing and easy to devour in a single afternoon .

Reviewed on: 05/03/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-0-385-33771-7
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MP3 CD - 978-1-74315-959-0
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