Goldengrove by Francine Prose
When her sister and best friend, Margaret, dies suddenly one spring morning, Nico’s world falls apart. The only one who seems to understand her and her grief is her sister’s boyfriend Aaron. He, in turn, sees a way to keep the dream of Margaret alive. By asking Nico to spend time with him doing what he and Margaret used to do together, to wear her perfume, and to dress like her, he is able to stave off facing his loss.
Initially, this works for both of them, as Margaret seems to be alive between them. As spring turns to summer and time passes, however, Nico becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the role she is playing, and becomes ever more distanced from her parents. Each person in Nico’s now diminished family turns inward and separate as they try to deal with their grief, leaving Nico alone to try to sort out her feelings of loss.
Turning finally, and ironically, to her father’s one-time lover and longtime colleague, Nico begins to find her own separateness from the ghost of Margaret. When Nico begins to experience chest pains severe enough to seek medical treatment, the family begins to come to terms with both the loss of one daughter and the love of another. It is in the fall, that Nico’s family is finally able to be reborn and move on — together.
This beautifully written story of tragedy is also one of hope and finding the help you need in some very unexpected places.
Harper/Harper Perennial; ISBN 978-0-06056-002-9; $13.99.
Goldengrove: Reading Guide
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