cover image Adult Onset

Adult Onset

Ann-Marie MacDonald. Tin House (PGW, dist.), $25.95 (388p) ISBN 978-1-941040-05

MacDonald’s (Fall on Your Knees) riveting drama features 48-year-old Mary Rose MacKinnon as she dutifully cares for her two young children in Toronto, outwardly making all the right choices with organic foods and extreme toddler proofing. Inwardly, however, she frets over potential disaster scenarios while struggling to retain a sense of self. Although Mary Rose writes young adult fiction and has a loyal fan base, she can’t make headway on the third novel in her trilogy. “She never imagined she would be a ‘morning person’ or drive a station wagon or be capable of following printed instructions for an array of domestic contraptions that come with some assembly required; until now, the only thing she had ever been able to assemble was a story.” During a week when her partner, Hilary, is out of town, Mary Rose reflects on her tumultuous childhood, which forced her to shoulder survivor’s guilt after the loss of would-be siblings, while coping with her lifelong painful bone condition. Glimmers of escalating anger—a family trait—begin to creep through her constructed veneer in Hilary’s absence. MacDonald’s strong narrative is a compelling examination of the loneliness and the often-absurd helplessness of being a parent of young children. (Apr.)