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The Hole We're in
by Gabrielle Zevin

Overview - Gabrielle Zevin is an award-winning screenwriter and author whose novels for young adults, Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, have brought her great acclaim and a large and loyal following. With The Hole We're In--a bold, timeless, yet all too timely novel about a troubled American family trying to navigate an even more troubled America--Zevin delivers a work that places her firmly in the ranks of our shrewdest social observers and our top literary talents.  Read more...

 
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More About The Hole We're in by Gabrielle Zevin
 
 
 
Overview
Gabrielle Zevin is an award-winning screenwriter and author whose novels for young adults, Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, have brought her great acclaim and a large and loyal following. With The Hole We're In--a bold, timeless, yet all too timely novel about a troubled American family trying to navigate an even more troubled America--Zevin delivers a work that places her firmly in the ranks of our shrewdest social observers and our top literary talents. Meet the Pomeroys: a church-going family of five living in a too-red house in a Texas college town. Roger, the patriarch, has impulsively decided to go back to school, only to find his future ambitions at odds with the temptations of the present. His wife, Georgia, is trying to keep things afloat on the home front, though she's been feeding the bill drawer with unopened envelopes for months and can never find the right moment to confront its scary, swelling contents. In an attempt to climb out of the holes they've dug, Roger and Georgia make a series of choices that will have catastrophic consequences for their three children--especially for Patsy, the youngest, who will spend most of her life fighting to overcome them. Though flawed and at times infuriating, Zevin's characters are so human and easy to relate to, it is difficult not to cheer them on as they fumble toward understanding each other, and in some cases, even themselves. In The Hole We're In, Gabrielle Zevin shines a spotlight on some of the most relevant issues of our day: over-reliance on credit, gender and class politics, and the war in Iraq. But it is her deft exploration of the fragile economy of family life--emotional, financial, and psychological--that makes this a book for the ages.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780802119230
  • ISBN-10: 0802119239
  • Publisher: Grove Press
  • Publish Date: March 2010
  • Page Count: 283


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Books > Fiction > Literary

 
BookPage Reviews

Sins of the father—and mother

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is so compelling about Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel. Merely summarizing the plot doesn’t do the book justice—it’s far more gripping than you’d expect from a family drama about the consequences of falling deeper and deeper into credit card debt. The real force of the novel, aside from Zevin’s elegant, no-words-wasted prose, comes from her complicated, multifaceted characters, who have an astonishing capacity for extremes of both generous and selfish behavior.

Zevin has written a number of young adult novels, but the problems she tackles in The Hole We’re In are solidly planted in the adult world, even if the hardest-hit victims are children. Roger Pomeroy is an evangelical patriarch who, at 42, decides that what he needs is to quit his job and return to school full-time. Roger’s wife, Georgia, takes a second job, but without Roger’s salary, and with the wedding of their eldest daughter, Helen, coming up, the family is financially strapped. Unable to pay the bills, Georgia hides them in drawers, pretending everything is fine. When her credit cards are maxed out, she applies for new ones in her children’s names, with dire results. Meanwhile, Roger outdoes himself by carrying on an affair with his academic advisor. Both parents, and their demanding oldest daughter, naturally feel their behavior is entirely justified.

Sadly, the one who ends up paying most for her family’s overextension is the youngest daughter, Patsy. Early in the book, Patsy is banished to her crazy grandmother’s house; she thinks it’s because she was dating a black man, but the real reason is far more sinister and unfair. What she realizes there encapsulates the book’s strongest theme: “For the last 14 days, she’d gone without television, privacy, and regular meals, and consequently she’d had plenty of time for the prayer and reflection that her father believed her to so desperately need. So she’d prayed and reflected and what she’d come to was this: people did what they could live with; all sin was relative.”

If this all sounds incredibly depressing, fear not: Though Patsy’s parents left her a terrible legacy, she’s a tough cookie, and the story allows her the kind of redemption money can’t buy. 

Becky Ohlsen is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon.

 
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