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Publisher's Summary

Mary and O’Neil frequently marveled at how, of all the lives they might have led, they had somehow found this one together. When they met at the Philadelphia high school where they’d come to teach, each had suffered a profound loss that had not healed. How likely was it that they could learn to trust, much less love, again?
Justin Cronin’s poignant debut traces the lives of Mary Olson and O’Neil Burke, two vulnerable young teachers who rediscover in each other a world alive with promise and hope. From the formative experiences of their early adulthood to marriage, parenthood, and beyond, this novel in stories illuminates the moments of grace that enable Mary and O’Neil to make peace with the deep emotional legacies that haunt them: the sudden, mysterious death of O’Neil’s parents, Mary’s long-ago decision to end a pregnancy, O’Neil’s sister’s battle with illness and a troubled marriage. Alive with magical nuance and unexpected encounters, Mary and O’Neil celebrates the uncommon in common lives, and the redemptive power of love.
©2001 Justin Cronin (P)2013 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"A literary love story...about the fragility of good fortune and the accidental ways of finding happiness." ( USA Today)
"An astonishingly good first novel...fully engaging from the first paragraph. What a gift: to be able to live alongside these people for a while.” (Ann Patchett, Chicago Tribune)
"Justin Cronin must have been a novelist in an earlier life. What else could account for the mature insight and the beautifully controlled technique we find in his debut novel?...Cronin succeeds, touchingly and tenderly, in portraying life itself as a triumph of hope over experience." ( The Boston Globe)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By doecosmo on 08-14-16


I loved it. this is my new favorite author. this is the fifth book I have listened to in less than a month. I can't get enough of him.

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2 out of 5 stars
By ewock on 11-13-15


Like most people, life has highs and lows. People vary in their ability to cope. We can learn from some a new skill, but others are just ordinary, illiciting neither praise nor censure. The characters in this book are dull. They do not stimulate thought. The only nice thing was the relationship between brother and sister. I finished it only because it has been a habit of mine to finish any book I start because I can speed read. While I enjoy audible books, I do not have time to waste long hours with something that bores me. I guess it is time to change my habits. This author has written other books I enjoyed, but I cannot recommend this one.

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