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Fragile: A Novel

A book by Lisa Unger

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A SENSITIVE, PENETRATING STORY OF COMPLEX PEOPLE From "When Jones Cooper was younger, he didn't bel

  • Aug 12, 2010
  • by
From “When Jones Cooper was younger, he didn't believe in mistakes” to 323 pages later and “As she told them all about her buried memory, she felt an awe at how all their separate lives were twisted and tangled, growing over an around one another...,”

FRAGILE enchants. It is a sensitive, penetrating story of complex people burdened by the past.


Jones, a cop,lives with his psychologist wife, Maggie, and rebellious teenage son, Ricky, in The Hollows, a small insular town outside of New York City. It's the kind of place that Maggie had once found dull, constraining, but now finds comforting as people know each other, and seemingly care for one another. It seems that Ricky might benefit from some observation as he's a punk kid with a silver hoop in his nose, sometimes referred to as “Johnny Rotten” by his dad. Try as Maggie may she can't seem to reach Ricky any more but loves him with all her heart, remembering “...how pure and unblemished, how soft and pink his baby skin had been.”


Ricky is going with Charlene, an undesirable companion in the eyes of Maggie and Jones. She is “a little girl lost hiding behind black eyeliner and vamp red lipstick.” However, Maggie does her best to understand, to accept Charlene because she loves Ricky.


However, understanding and acceptance go out the window when Charlene vanishes. To some her disappearance is a frightening reminder of a teenager who was abducted and murdered years ago when Maggie herself was a teenager. Jones is leading the investigation in efforts to find Charlene and, shocking to Maggie, begins to look very closely at their son. A once tranquil community is once again shattered by a mysterious disappearance.


In a desperate attempt to prove Ricky innocent of any wrongdoing Maggie begins an investigation of her own and makes a shocking discovery.


No novice at creating suspenseful, gripping narratives Lisa Unger has once again penned a stay-up-all-night story.




- Gail Cooke


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More Fragile: A Novel reviews
review by . November 22, 2010
Maggie and Jones live in the town they grew up in with their teenage son Ricky. When Ricky's girlfriend Charlene disappears, Maggie knows he is not involved but Jones is not so sure. When the polics start asking guestions about Char and her troubled life, the town is forced to relive and reassess the facts of the disappearance 20 years ago of another high school girl, a disappearance that ended with the discovery of a body. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the ripples from Sarah's …
review by . September 25, 2010
Maggie and Jones have a relatively happy marriage...but with a teenager in the house sometimes things are tenuous. Their son Ricky is their usual source of conflict; where Maggie sees her beautiful, smart little boy, Jones sees the piercings, tattoos, and dyed black hair as indicators of trouble. When Ricky's goth girlfriend Charlene goes missing, the small, close knit town is rocked to its core. And as a monumental search is launched for Charlene, old wounds are opened in the Hollows; everyone …
review by . August 03, 2010
Unger goes off the beaten track in this novel, but not so far as for her work to be unrecognizable. While contemporary, this mystery dredges up a town's past and reawakens dark secrets that have altered the lives of those involved. Not far from New York City, The Hollows enjoys a small town identity, neighbors who have known each other since grade school. The only anomaly is the younger generation, infected by the angst of the times and the usual anti-social behaviors of adolescence, once happy …
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Gail Cooke ()
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Member Since: Nov 1, 2008
Last Login: Aug 19, 2012 07:37 PM UTC
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About this book


Set in the Hollows, a secluded town about 100 miles outside New York City, Unger's contemporary thriller offers solid entertainment, but lacks the tension of her 2008 stand-alone, Black Out. Psychologist Maggie Cooper and her husband, Det. Jones Cooper, disagree on how to handle their rebellious son, 17-year-old Rick, who prefers to spend time with his band or holed up with his girlfriend, Charlene Murray. When Charlene disappears one night after a fight with her mother, Maggie and Jones wonder if she ran off to Manhattan, but are reminded of the disappearance 20 years earlier of Sarah Meyers, whose mutilated body was found after she vanished on her way home from school. Though the alleged killer confessed, there are still unanswered questions, and Maggie and Jones find themselves forced to revisit the past as suspicion falls on Rick. Since the Hollows is so small, characters continually rehash secrets--and rumors--so that Unger relies too heavily on the community's interconnectedness to bolster her plot.
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ISBN-10: 0307393992
ISBN-13: 978-0307393999
Author: Lisa Unger
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Crown
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