The Given World

The Given World

Book - 2015
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" Complex and haunting...vivid and unforgettable." -- People

" Ardent, ambitious." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Stunning...elegant...It's enormously refreshing to read a story that talks about complicated women with so much empathy." -- Missoula Independent

"Reverberates with the tones of a modern western--except that its tough-talking hero is a woman...all surliness and cheek...self-punishing, defiant, vulnerable." -- San Francisco Chronicle

From a quiet family farm in Montana in the 60s to the grit and haze of San Francisco in the 70s to a gypsy-populated, post-war Saigon, The Given World spins around its unconventional and unforgettable heroine, Riley. When her big brother is declared MIA in Vietnam, young Riley packs up her shattered heart and leaves her family, her first love, and "a few small things" behind. By trial and error she builds a new life, working on cars, delivering newspapers, tending bar. She befriends, rescues, and is rescued by a similarly vagabond cast of characters whose "'unraveled souls' sting hardest and linger the longest." ( The New York Times Book Review) Foolhardy, funny, and wise, Riley's challenge as she grows into a woman is simple: survive long enough to go home again, or at least figure out where home is, and who might be among the living there.

Lorrie Moore said, "It's been a long time since a first book contained this much wisdom and knowledge of the world." The Given World is the remarkable debut of "an immense writing talent." ( Booklist )
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2015
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476777931
Branch Call Number: PALAIA
Characteristics: 288 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 29, 2015

Something about Marian Palaia's writing style was captivating to me. Even when she was writing about horrific times in the main character's life (drug abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, grief, homelessness), she did so in a way that made me want to keep reading. The subject matter is a tough one, and the plot is gritty, but Palaia pulls it off in a way that is touching and even hopeful.

Jun 02, 2015

A lovely book about the unseen effects the Vietnam war had on the lives of civilians. Sadly there were three typos in this book. I cannot understand how in this age of technological advances how obvious typos from renown publishers are getting through. Anyway the writing is beautiful in describing places, people, and emotions. A solid & tender tale.


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Jun 06, 2015

Coarse Language: profanity used throughout


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