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Modern Families

January 9th, 2012
Carole · Staff Recommendations

Families are flawed. Spouses disappoint. Children make bad choices. Contemporary family life comes with challenges, stresses and expectations that must be navigated with great care. In the frenzy of everyday living, attention to the most important relationships can suffer. In a crisis, even the most solid bonds can crack; a tenuous bond can collapse.

When things go wrong, how do families cope? When the unimaginable happens, how do we maintain a sense of normalcy necessary to function on a daily basis? When relationships are tested, can they recover? When love is tested, can it endure?

Read about some modern families, the obstacles they confront, the disillusionment they grapple with; see how relationships survive, some damaged but intact, some stronger than ever, others choosing to follow a different path.

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

The Bergamots move to Riverdale from upstate New York, wanting to fit in to their new well-to do social circle. Life is both hectic and isolating for Liz but she is happy that her children are adjusting well, making friends more easily than she expected, teen-aged Jake at his new prep school and easy going Coco in kindergarten. Though husband Richard’s new job preoccupies him more than ever, the family seems to be settling into their new routine. Until, with the click of a mouse, scandal ensues.

More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss

Josh and Dori are happily tending to their life in Florida as new parents to adorable Zack. Dori is a stay at home mom seemingly relishing the role as primary caregiver. Things change when one morning Dori rushes Zack to the hospital because he had briefly stopped breathing. Dr. Darlene Stokes is the tending physician who examines Zack. When accusations are launched and explanations are sought, each character is forced to examine their own reality, each pushed to their own breaking point.

The Good Wife by Stewart O’Nan

“For better or worse”. These words take on profound meaning for young wife and mother Patty. Her life takes an unimaginable turn due to her husband’s youthful recklessness and stupidity. The sacrifices made and hardships endured by her in the name of love are a testament to true, unyielding commitment and begs the question “What would you do?”

The Heights by Peter Hedges

Tim and Kate Welch are a middle-class couple trying to live within their means in the exclusive enclave of Brooklyn Heights. Tim is on sabbatical from his teaching job, hoping to finish his PhD. Kate goes back to work as a fundraiser. Parenting duties shift from Kate to Tim, each of them coping with the demands of their new roles. Enter Anna Brody, beautiful and bored, wealthy and impulsive, the new owner of the most expensive brownstone in Brooklyn and new friend to Kate…and Tim.

The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarity

High School senior Kara and her mother Leigh have a strained mother daughter relationship which Leigh is hoping to remedy before Kara leaves for college. Kara makes a fateful mistake that threatens to alter everything that was possible for her, planned for her and expected of her. How does a family cope with the devastation of being the cause of ultimate, unending grief and loss. When a community turns against it’s own, can a family sustain itself?

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