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A fictional memoir of a woman's survival and self-discovery

  • Dec 5, 2012
Rating:
+4
Before she was born, March Rivers listened to the music of promise and dreamed the things she might do with this wonderful life. But her premature arrival as a “four-pound tomato” sets her off on the wrong foot. Failing to fulfill other people's expectations, March finds her own life also failing to live up to her dreams as she grows up.
Suzanne McNear’s Knock Knock, a Life brings a world of bright hopes and hard knocks into focus, where the Bishop rushes through confirmation, post-WWII songs play their soundtrack, and a father takes pictures of his daughter “to prove that she is pretty.” “To smile is to engage the world,” he says, and young March is learning to hide behind her smile.
Will success at school make her popular? Will finding a lover make her loved? Will marrying and carrying children make her the daughter she’s meant to be? But the world March grows up in is changing. Women’s roles broaden while men’s expectations hold them back. And the young woman who wants to fit in is condemned to feel like an imposter. March graduates, leaves home, gains her independence and returns with everything she’d hoped for and none of her dreams. But children bring connection to the present, even as depression drives March ever further from herself and her past.
The author uses detail to great effect in this novel, highlighting authenticity with echoes on the phone and the awkward determination of motherhood. Even as March stumbles into dismay, the world around her remains clear and true, hope shining through. “March,” her husband shouts. “March.” And she does, right through the disconnected mother-ness of life—not apple pie after all—tied to her daughters’ apron strings, and keeping on so they will have a firmer anchor in this changing world, until, as Robert Walser wrote, “patience brings roses.”
March’s studies and struggles finally come to fruition. The little girl who knew her neighbors so well eventually knows herself and tells her own tale, writing it down, bleeding an age into words, and delighting readers with hope’s ongoing fulfillment.
Disclosure: I received a free bound galley of this novel from the publishers, the Permanent Press.

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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #42
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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Knock, Knock... Who's there? Suzanne McNear's memoir of an unconventional life filled with unexpected aperçus and odd encounters, written with quirky brilliance and elegant wisdom. A celebration and a triumph. -- --Lily Tuck, 2004 National Book Award Winner for News from Paraguay, whose most recent novel, I Married You for Happiness, appeared in 2011.

...the author describes people and events in striking, original and funny ways... --Kirkus
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