My Only Story: A Novel Paperback – 1 May 2001
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–ANDRE DUBUS III
Author of House of Sand and Fog
"A thoroughly captivating book: warm and wise and beautifully written."
Author of Straight Man
"[AN] ACCOMPLISHED NEW NOVEL . . . Wood’s command of voice holds a reader all the way through to the last page, where . . . she holds up a mirror and encourages us to recognize ourselves."
–San Francisco Chronicle
"ONE OF THE BEST NOVELS I’VE READ IN THE PAST YEAR . . . A slender book that unfolds as gracefully as the petals of a rose . . . A small gem to be read, reread, and, yes, treasured."
–The Roanoke Times
From the Back Cover
Rita Rosario has a gift, a way with people. She listens to them and really sees them for who they are-warts and all. And sometimes, she even knows how to guide them toward a new beginning. Women, even men, come to Rita's beauty shop for perms, town gossip, and the makeovers of their very lives.
John Reed first appears to Rita in one of her dreams. When they meet at a town gathering a few days later, she immediately offers him a haircut, and her heart. As they share their stories, Rita senses she can help John fill a void by reconnecting him to his only family-a young niece he nearly lost in a heartbreaking tragedy. While inspiring John on a journey out of loneliness and into reconciliation, Rita begins to come to terms with events in her past . . . and discovers things about herself she never realized, including her own intimate role in John's unfolding story.
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- Publisher : Ballantine Books (1 May 2001)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0345442938
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345442932
- Item Weight : 272 g
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 1.91 x 21.59 cm
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
Rita wants to help people, heal them, and she's good at it. Little does she know, she needs a healing makeover herself. She's in a rut: divorced, yearning for a child, and fighting a fight she can't win to save her town. When she think she's found happiness and purpose after dreaming of a crippled dog she needs to help, she learns she's only half-way there. Fixing other people isn't enough, you still have to fix yourself, and forgiveness goes a long way. Life is a glorious trip!
With more determination than skill, Rita sets out to right those wrongs as she fights the developers in her home town, refuses to forget the sister who seems determined to disappear, and tries with all her heart to help John Reed paint himself back into the life of his small niece.
With "My Only Story", Monica Wood brings us a conundrum. If people try to start over in life ("People do begin anew. They begin and begin."), does it mean they have to erase the unbearable past? Or see it as a bad dream, rather than a reality with which they can live? If there is only one story in each of our lives, is it a story that superimposes itself on everything we do?
Rita pushes John toward the reformation of his life, the meeting with the sisters of the woman his brother murdered. Laura had been one of the four Doherty sisters, forever going through life with arms linked. Their family was close, tight. Tight as a fist, no way in or out, and John's brother had shattered that by killing his wife, the hub, the one who held everyone together. Now, only Aileen, John's niece, kept the stitches from ripping out of that family quilt.
"When I was a child," Rita says, "there was more of a connection between what you thought your life was and what it actually was. That I miss." Rita, too, is dealing with a torn and broken family. As she and John seem to be putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, along comes Darla, Rita's sister, trying to wedge herself into the picture. It's a truth that none of us marries one person. We marry their family as well, and sometimes we find we can't breathe.
"My Only Story" doesn't offer any pat answers or comfy endings. As Rita realizes at the end, it's possible sometimes to try too hard to shape the world to our desires. Sometimes you just have to hold out for a while, waiting for the sweep of time to make things - if not right - at least balanced.
What I liked about this book was how drawn into it I became. Like John and Rita, I was attracted to the Doherty family; I wanted Rita to be the healer and the one who gave them a second chance. Ms. Wood's ability to write the story in many levels made it the kind of book that you keep thinking about, weeks after you read it, and little phrases keep coming back to you. In particular, for me, the phrase "It's wrong to erase things." Even though it was Rita who said it, even she is guilty of it, trying to erase her sister's life in a commune by denigrating the people she lived with. "I wasn't in a coma for all those years, Rita," Darla argues. "I lived there. I had friends. People loved me." Rita, who had made a life alone for herself, thinks she understands, but she really doesn't. "Rita," Darla cries, "I LOST something."
You see? This is what makes the book good. No matter how much each of us thinks we understand things, we still don't. We each have limits and blind spots but, as Rita says, life is long. One story runs out, another begins, and there is nothing to do but marvel at the slow, glorious sweep of time.
While this plot line may seem absurd from this description, it is refreshingly normal. This story is really about love, loss, forgiveness, family, and finally acceptance. Monica Wood is a stunningly beautiful writer and can convey complex emotions in the most beautiful and simple ways. The book stays with you long after you finish it, as do the characters.
Wood's ability to express both human pain and human hope is very refreshing. I look forward to reading every word she writes from now on. Also, I strongly recommend her other novel, Secret Language.