“Henry James said, ‘Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’ I beg to differ: “summer” and “reading” are my two personal favorites. My latest favorite, the memoir An Abbreviated Life, is a reality check. Ariel Leve grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, wanting for nothing except everything that matters to a kid: safety, security, predictability, unconditional love. Her dad lived in Southeast Asia, and her mom was needy and wildly unpredictable, and saved her charm for drunken revelers who partied loudly while Leve tried to fall asleep. Picture an intellectual, literary, often-naked East Coast Joan Crawford, and you have a sense of who raised this wise, self-aware author. As an adult, she once crossed paths with a former party guest, who told a mutual acquaintance, “I always wondered how that little girl would survive. I thought her only choices were suicide or murder.” To learn how Leve saved herself, you must read this distressing and inspiring book.”
Elizabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens, now out in paperback
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