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COUNT THE WAYS by Joyce Maynard Kirkus Star


by Joyce Maynard

Pub Date: May 25th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-239827-7
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Since she was once a homeless orphan, Eleanor's chaotic, joyous family and farm mean everything to her. And then....

How much pain and loss can one person take? How can you end up evicted from a world you built yourself? How can doing the right thing backfire totally? In her 10th novel, Maynard vividly imagines a scenario that answers these questions with hard-won wisdom, patiently leading her protagonist and her readers through the valley of bitterness and isolation to what lies on the other side. When she is just 16, Eleanor's alcoholic, self-involved parents are killed in a car crash. At boarding school, she comforts herself by creating picture books about an orphan who travels the world; these sell to a publisher, and by the time she's a sophomore in college, she has enough money to drop out, drive into the countryside, and buy a farm. "It looked like a house where people who loved each other had lived," she thinks. If you build it, they will come—right? Nonetheless, several years go by in solitude, and not without additional tragedy. At last, she meets Cam, the handsome, redheaded woodworker who will give her three children they both adore. But even as Eleanor revels in motherhood with every cell of her being, her glue gun, and her pie pan, she knows fate cannot be trusted. "If anything really terrible ever happened to one of our children, I couldn't survive," she tells her husband. Could loving her children too much be her downfall? she worries. When an accident that her husband could have prevented changes their lives, she will find out. She will find out how, in your grief, you can drive away the people you love most. And she will find out, slowly, what you can do about that. The novel bites off a lot—a Brett Kavanaugh–inspired storyline, a domestic abuse situation, a trans child, Eleanor's career—and manages to resolve them all, in some cases a bit hastily.

Maynard creates a world rich and real enough to hold the pain she fills it with.