Half a Heart

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 18, 2001 - Fiction - 368 pages
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An unforgettable novel about race and motherhood from the bestselling author of Before and After

Once a Civil Rights activist, Miriam Vener feels trapped in the comfortable upper-middle-class life she leads with her family in Houston in the 1980s. That life suddenly shatters with the appearance, after almost eighteen years, of Veronica (Ronnee), Miriam's biracial daughter born of her passionate affair a generation ago with Eljay, a brilliant black professor at a Mississippi college, who has raised the child. When Miriam introduces her daughter to the utterly white New England town where she summers, and to the Houston society that represents her own compromise of her '60s ideals, the results are complicated. What claim does Miriam have on Ronnee after all this time, and what does Ronnee, no longer a child, want of her mother now? As Miriam desperately and awkwardly invites affection from this stranger who shares her blood, Ronnee--hot-tempered, sensitive, manipulative, and deeply hurt--wrestles with her fury at her mother's mysterious disappearance from her life and searches for reparations. With which family--and which race--does Ronnee identify, and how does that affect her relationships with her newly discovered half sister, her white boyfriend, and the father she is rebelling against? A moving story about estrangement and intimacy, race and privilege, identity and belonging, Half a Heart is a searingly honest novel of public and private ideals betrayed and hopes reignited, in which one of our foremost novelists probes the way history and unyielding love shape our lives.


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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The volatile relationship between a fortysomething Houston matron and the racially mixed daughter who hesitantly reenters her life is central to Brown's intelligent, affecting, if occasionally slow ... Read full review

Half A Heart

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Alternating narrators Jayne Atkinson and Lisa Gay Hamilton present the two sides of a complex reunion between a mother and the child she has not seen in almost 20 years. While teaching at an African ... Read full review



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About the author (2001)

Rosellen Brown is the author of the New York Times bestseller Before and After (FSG, 1992) and three other novels, The Autobiography of My Mother, Ter Mercies, and Civil Wars; a collection of stories, Street Games; and three collections of poetry, Deaths in the Delta, Cora Fry, and Cora Fry's Pillow Book (FSG, 1994). She lives in Chicago.

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