Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Goldengrove by Francine Prose


The summer of Nico's thirteenth year changed her and her family forever.  One minute she was rowing in a boat with her beloved older sister, Margaret.  The next Margaret had dove into the water, never to emerge alive again.  The word from the doctors was a heart condition that stopped her heart but Nico knows she stopped their family forever.

Margaret had been the elder, the beautiful one, the outgoing one, the singer who brought audiences to their feet in standing ovations.  Nico was the introvert, the girl who loved science and books.  No one knew what to say to her or her family.  She drew back from her few friends, sure that no one else in the world knew what they were feeling, what changes had been wrought.

Except one person.  Aaron was Margaret's boyfriend, an artist as talented as she had been.  Nico had been their accomplice, going to movies alone when her parents thought she was tagging along with Margaret and Aaron, giving them time and space to make love, to be alone.  Aaron is the only other person she knows would understand but he is much too old to hang out with and wouldn't it be too weird for words?

But Aaron seems to want to hang out with Nico.  He also feels that lack of anyone who truly understands what he has lost.  They start hanging out, going out for ice cream as the three of them used to, driving for hours in his van visiting the places dear to Margaret.  They watch old movies that Margaret loved.  Nico started to wear Margaret's clothes.  Was she in danger of turning herself into her sister?

This is a lovely book that touches the feeling of grief when a truly loved person passes away.  Nico is lost in time, remembering Margaret and slowly but surely falling in love with Aaron, a dangerous liaison she knows is not right but can't pull herself away from.  Prose gets the feeling of a young teenager right and the writing's pacing and tone are perfect.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.

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