A taut, bighearted new novel from bestselling and award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about a daughter’s relationship with her larger-than-life mother—and all that is left behind as one generation moves to the next
In The Hero of This Book, Elizabeth McCracken tracks a daughter’s relationship with her larger-than-life mother. At every turn the narrator is confronted by the past—remembered conversations, the days the two of them spent wandering through museums or going to the theater—playing alongside questions of the future: back in New England, the family home is now for sale, its considerable contents already winnowed.
But the messy detritus of an ordinary life is not all that remains. Visiting familiar haunts, the woman recalls all that made her complicated mother extraordinary—her brilliant wit, her generosity, her unbelievable obstinacy, her sheer will in seizing life despite serious physical ailments. The woman, a writer, finds herself wondering how her mother had endured. Even though she wants to respect her mother’s nearly pathological sense of privacy, the woman must come to terms with whether making a chronicle of this remarkable life constitutes an act of love or betrayal.
The Hero of This Book is a searing examination of grief and renewal, and of a deeply felt relationship between a child and her parents. What begins as a question of filial devotion ultimately becomes a lesson in what it means to write. At once comic and heartbreaking, with prose that delights at every turn, this is a novel of such piercing love and tenderness that we are reminded that art is what remains when all else falls away