The Sixteenth of June: A Novel

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A finely observed debut novel that paints a funny, moving, truthful portrayal of a family at a turning point: “A triumph” (Helen Schulman, New York Times bestselling author of This Beautiful Life).

Leopold Portman dreams of settling down in Philadelphia’s bucolic suburbs and starting a family with his fiancée, Nora. A talented singer in mourning for her mother, Nora has abandoned a promising opera career and wonders what her destiny holds. Her best friend, Stephen, Leopold’s brother, dithers in his seventh year of graduate school and privately questions Leo and Nora’s relationship. On June 16, 2004, the three are brought together—first for a funeral, then for the Portmans’ annual Bloomsday party. As the long-simmering tensions between them rise, they must confront their pasts and their hopes for the future.

Clever, lyrical, and poignant, The Sixteenth of June delves into the frictions and allegiances of friendships, the murky uncertainty of early adulthood, and the yearning to belong. Offering a nod to James Joyce’s Ulysses, this remarkable novel explores the secrets we keep and the lengths we go to for acceptance and love. It is “a perfect book for fans of Jonathan Tropper, Meg Wolitzer, and, yes, James Joyce” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
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About the author

Maya Lang is the first-generation daughter of Indian immigrants. She was awarded the 2012 Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship in Fiction and was a Finalist for Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and lives in New York with her husband and daughter.

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3.5
4 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 3, 2014
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781476745787
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / Family Life / General
Fiction / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The tender, engaging story of a family in pain and a boy whose quest for courage leads him deep into the wilds of Appalachia

In 1948 Madeline Tally leaves her philandering husband and returns home to North Carolina, where she and her thirteen-year-old son, James, move into an ugly purple trailer in the cow pasture behind her father’s farmhouse. Smart and sensitive, James worries that he is somehow responsible for his parents’ separation and feels out of place in the town where he grew up but has not been back to for five years. None of his old friends have time for him anymore, and his only new one is Lester Buck, a poor, peculiar boy who shares James’s love of the outdoors.

In Pittsburgh, Edward Tally spends his nights drinking with his fellow construction workers in the bar downstairs from his new apartment. He tries to tell himself that he is better off without Madeline and James, that he wants to be his own man again, free of the expectations that he was never able to meet. But there is a burden on his heart that cannot be eased by booze or by Paris Pergola, the seductive, moody blonde he has taken up with.

Told from the alternating perspectives of the three Tallys, Thief of Dreams builds to a stunning climax as Edward comes to North Carolina to try to win back his family, and James and Lester get into a vicious fight with a schoolyard bully. With his friend in the hospital and his parents unable to bridge the divide between them, James heads into the frozen forest. What he discovers there will give him enough wisdom and experience to last a lifetime, if he can only make it back to his family alive.
A Huffington Post “2017 Hottest Reads of The Summer” Pick

“Taylor Larsen creates a powerful and moving story about the fracturing of a family and its descent into chaos. A brilliant debut of self-delusion, and a perfectly flawed male character spiraling downward.” —Huffington Post

An “emotionally intelligent family drama” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), in the tradition of Tom Perrotta’s Little Children, about a wealthy man who reaches a crossroads after a lifetime of repression, sending his family into a slow spiral towards a breakdown.

When Michael James sees his wife Nancy chatting with a stranger at a party, his intuition tells him that he’s watching her with the man she should have married. He quickly begins a campaign to replace himself within his own family with this other man—who, to him, is worthier, better, and kinder—all so his faithful wife Nancy, his beautiful teenage daughter Ryan, and his young son Max can live the lives they deserve.

While Michael pursues this man’s friendship, Ryan goes through a period of sexual awakening and rebellion and distances herself from her family, and the quiet, weak Nancy becomes increasingly befuddled and frustrated by the behaviors of her husband and daughter. As tension and uncertainty build in their home, the James family slowly unravels.

With the quiet intensity of the film American Beauty and the emotional sensitivity of Lorrie Moore, Taylor Larsen creates a powerful and moving story about the fracturing of a family and its descent into chaos.
Love—common and uncommon, vengeful and transformational—is the theme of this superb collection from the bestselling author of Notes from an Exhibition.
 
From subtle tales of domestic unease to a story featuring a caravan that transports three generations of a family away from their small-town lives, author Patrick Gale proves in his second story collection that he is a master at mining the loneliness, yearning, and eternal optimism of the human spirit.
 
The lonely wife of a prison governor—and the only female on an inaccessible island—gets a lesson in angling from an inmate who will pay a high price in “The Lesson.” In “Saving Space,” a widower returns to a summer music festival to revisit bittersweet memories of his wife—and receives consolation from another woman’s ghost. In “Petals on a Pool,” a female author bonds with a male poet at a book convention in Hong Kong where no one has heard of them—until she sees something odd floating among the petals in the hotel’s pool. The puppy training lessons at the center of “Obedience” serve as the catalyst for the rekindled sex life of a couple when the husband is suspected of murder.
 
Gentleman’s Relish also features chilling tales of blood and revenge. In “Making Hay,” a senior citizen living in a retirement home conceives a diabolical payback in the form of family folklore told to her young grandchildren. And in “Cookery,” a son exacts a nasty retribution against his homophobic father when he whips up an extra-special dinner.
 
Some of these stories unfold like dreams—or nightmares—and others dissect with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Narrated with wit, glee, and surprising tenderness, this collection includes unsung masterpieces like “Hushed Casket,” in which a husband on his honeymoon discovers an old tea casket in an abandoned church that releases a macabre spirit, and suddenly, the homely spouse is transformed into an irresistible sex magnet.
 
Additionally included here are stories originally commissioned by BBC Radio 4, as well as “In the Camp,” which explores the childhood of Laura Lewis, the heroine of Gale’s acclaimed novel The Whole Day Through. With Gale’s sharp eye for detail and unerring ear for dialogue, this pitch-perfect, something-for-everyone collection is sure to lure readers in—and keep them hooked. 
 
The acclaimed author of The Borrower returns with a dazzlingly original, mordantly witty novel about the secrets of an old-money family and their turn-of-the-century estate, Laurelfield.

“Rebecca Makkai is a writer to watch, as sneakily ambitious as she is unpretentious."
–Richard Russo
 
Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents’ wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there’s Violet Devohr, Zee’s great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

Violet’s portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony—and this is exactly the period Zee’s husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track—besides some motivation and self-esteem—is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head—that is, if they were to ever uncover them.

In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer.

For readers of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle
The lessons our children teach us are the hardest ones. What do we do when our children don’t pursue our hopes for them? In this riveting new novel, Danielle Steel explores how families can evolve and grow in unexpected ways.

A senior partner at a prestigious New York law firm, Kate Morgan couldn’t be prouder of her three grown children. Tamara, Anthony, and Claire all went to great schools, chose wonderful career paths, and would have made their father proud. A single mother for years after the death of her husband, Kate keeps a tight rein on her family, her career, and even her own emotions, never once asking herself if she truly knows her children . . . or if her hopes for them are the right ones, and what they want. She is about to find out.

During one hectic summer in Manhattan, Kate’s world turns upside down. One child has been keeping an astonishing secret while another confesses to an equally shocking truth. A wonderful match and picture-book wedding are traded for a relationship that shakes Kate to her core. A totally inappropriate love affair and an out-of-wedlock baby complete the chaos. Challenged as a mother and as a successful independent woman herself, Kate struggles to keep up with a dizzying and escalating chain of events, and begins to realize that she has a part to play in the chaos. Because Kate too has kept secrets from her children.

Sometimes the surprising choices our children make are the right ones . . . better than what we wanted for them. More often than not, parenting is about letting go of our dreams and embracing theirs.
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