cover image Miller’s Valley

Miller’s Valley

Anna Quindlen. Random, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9608-1

Quindlen’s latest novel, following Still Life with Breadcrumbs, is a moving exploration of family and notions of home. Mimi Miller recounts her life beginning in the 1960s in Miller’s Valley, a small Pennsylvania town where her family has been firmly rooted for generations. Government officials warn that a flood could drown the family farm, and Mimi observes her community’s reactions while trying to reconcile her own ambitions with her loyalty to home. Her father refuses to relocate, and seeing his stubbornness, Mimi begins to understand her mother’s own unrealized dreams. She also wonders about her reclusive aunt, who lives in a small house on their property and never ventures outside. She watches as her brother, Tommy, tries to escape a feeling of stagnancy by enlisting in the military, only to find himself more trapped than before. Meanwhile, she forges her own escapes into school, romance, and sex. Though the pacing is somewhat uneven, Quindlen’s prose is crisp and her insights resonant. This coming-of-age story is driven as much by the fully realized characters as it is by the astute ideas about progress and place. (Apr.)