Cover image for Shadow baby
Title:
Shadow baby
ISBN:
9780307462282
Edition:
1st Three Rivers Press ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Three Rivers Press, [2009?]
Physical Description:
247 p. ; 21 cm.
Summary:
Eleven-year-old Clara is struggling to find the truth about her missing father and grandfather and her twin sister, dead at birth, but her mother steadfastly refuses to talk about these people who are lost to her daughter.
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Summary

Summary

A young girl forms an unforgettable friendship with an elderly neighbor while searching for answers about her family's past in this national bestseller and Pulitzer Prize nominee.

Eleven-year-old Clara is struggling to find the truth about her missing father and grandfather and her twin sister, dead at birth, but her mother steadfastly refuses to talk about these people who are lost to her daughter. When Clara begins interviewing Georg Kominsky, a lone old man, for a school biography assignment, she finds that he is equally reticent about his own concealed history. Precocious and imaginative, the girl invents version upon version of Mr. Kominsky's past, just as she invents lives for the people missing from her own shadowy past.

The journey of discovery that these two oddly matched people embark upon is at the heart of this beautiful story about friendship and communion, about discovering what matters most in life, and about the search to find the missing pieces of ourselves. McGhee's prose glistens with shrewd truth and wild imaginings, creating a novel that will reverberate in the hearts and minds of readers long after the book is finished.


Author Notes

ALISON McGHEE has been awarded the Minnesota Book Award and the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award for her first novel, Rainlight . This is her second novel. Her short fiction has been published widely in literary magazines. Born and reared in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, she currently lives in Minnesota.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Now that the old man is gone, I think about him much of the time. I remember the first night I ever saw him. It was March, a year and a half ago. I was watching skiers pole through Nine Mile Woods on the Adirondack Ski Trail, black shapes moving through the trees like shadows or bats flying low. I watched from the churchhouse as my mother, Tamar, and the rest of the choir practiced in the Twin Churches sanctuary.         That was my habit back then. I was an observer and a watcher.         When the choir director lifted her arm for the first bar of the first hymn, I left and walked through the passageway that leads from the sanctuary to the churchhouse. The light that comes through stained-glass windows when the moon rises is a dark light. It makes the colors of stained glass bleed into each other in the shadows. A long time ago one of the Miller boys shot his BB gun through a corner of the stained-glass window in the back, near the kitchen. No one ever fixed it. The custodian cut a tiny piece of clear glass and puttied it into the broken place. I may be the only person in the town of Sterns, New York, who still remembers that there is one stained-glass window in a corner of the Twin Churches churchhouse that is missing a tiny piece of its original whole.         It's gone. It will never return.         That first night, the first time I ever saw the old man, I dragged a folding chair over to that window and stood on it so I could look through the tiny clear piece of patch-glass onto the sloping banks of the Nine Mile Woods. Down below you can see Nine Mile Creek, black and glittery. You would never want to fall into it even though it's only a few feet deep.         I watched the old man in the woods that night. He held fire in his bare hands. That's what it looked like at first, before I realized it was an extralong fireplace match. Tamar and I do not have a fireplace but still, I know what an extralong fireplace match looks like. I watched the old man for what seemed like two hours, as long as the choir took to practice. The moonlight turned him into a shadow amongst the trees, until a small flame lit up a few feet from the ground. The small flame rose in the air and swung from side to side, swinging slower and slower until it stopped. Then I saw that it was a lantern, hung in a tree. An old-time kind of lantern, with candlelight flickering through pierced-tin patterns. I knew about that kind of lantern. It was a pioneer lantern.         You might wonder how I knew about lanterns. You might wonder how a mere girl of eleven would have in-depth knowledge of pierced-tin pioneer lanterns.         Let me tell you that a girl of eleven is capable of far more than is dreamt of in most universes.         To the casual passerby a girl like me is just a girl. But a girl of eleven is more than the sum of her age. Although it is not often stated, she is already living in her twelfth year; she has entered into the future.         The first night I saw him the old man was lighting up the woods for the skiers. First one lantern hung swinging in the tree, then another flame hung a few trees farther down. I stood on my folding chair and peeked through the clear patch-glass on the stained-glass window. Three lanterns lit, and four. Six, seven, eight. Nine, and the old man was done. I watched his shadow move back to the toboggan he had used to drag the lanterns into Nine Mile Woods. He picked up the toboggan rope, he put something under his arm, and he walked through the woods to Nine Mile Trailer Park, pulling the toboggan behi Excerpted from Shadow Baby: A Novel by Alison McGhee All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.