by bookboy on June 19, 2007The Center of Everything is one of those rare coming of age novels full of emotional pathos and personal growth that somehow touches a deep nerve within, especially if you were about the same age in the Reagan era 80's as protagonist Evelyn Bucknow. It is a novel about a smart girl living in a small Kansas town with her overwhelmingly depressed, trampy "welfare queen" mother searching for a better path in life than the path her mother chose. Told from Evelyn's perspective between the ages of 10 through 18, the first half of the novel focuses on her increasingly strained relationship with her somewhat unattentive mother. When Evelyn reaches the breaking point with her mother and "a black line" is drawn between them, the novel then focuses on Evelyn's fractured friendships, painfully unrequited love and her desire to improve the quality of her life. Moriarty's prose is thoughtful and breezy with a touch of child-like innocence. The characters are achingly real keeping you riveted to the page not from suspense but from a desire to get to know them better. You'll find your emotions run high as you love/hate many of the characters, especially Evelyn's mother. Touching and poignant, sad but never sappy The Center of Everything is a believable account of a girl's search for herself and her place in the world.
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