This is what I love about the world of book bloggers: fantastic recommendations. I read about this Alice McDermott novel over at Educating Petunia, ordered it from Paperback Swap, and brought it on vacation. I had two books in line in front of it to read, but once I got to it I could hardly put it down.
The story is of one summer in the life of 15-year-old Theresa, a capable only child whose parents moved out to Long Island in hopes of providing their daughter with a better life among the elite. Theresa becomes the town's most sought-after babysitter and pet watcher, and she takes care of the poorest kids and the richest kids with equal love and compassion. Her younger cousin, Daisy, comes to spend the summer with her, and Theresa cares for the fragile girl with grace and maturity. There are all kinds of summer dramas that Theresa must deal with in the course of all her care-taking: alcoholic fathers, absent mothers, affairs, arguments, discarded children. She weaves her way through all of these lives, keeping what she needs and storing information to use to navigate her own life.
I'd relish a sequel to this book. I'd love to know what happens to Theresa in her 20s, or even in the next summer. One particular scene with a famous artist leaves me wondering exactly what Theresa has planned for her own life and how this might differ from the life her parents have planned for her.