Tina Jordan
June 10, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EDT

They May Not Mean To, But They Do: A Novel

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Cathleen Schine
publisher
Sarah Crichton Books
genre
Novel

We gave it a B+

Dysfunctional-family alert! Schine’s deliciously quirky multigenerational novel takes its title from Philip Larkin’s famous poem (“They f— you up, your mum and dad./They may not mean to, but they do”). Joy Bergman, 86, is at a crossroads, bereft after the death of her husband and the loss of her beloved job. Yet when her kids begin to circle, increasingly worried about her mood and her finances, Joy deflects their suggestions about how she should live her life with all the starch she can muster—and then promptly finds herself a boyfriend. This is one of those novels that somehow manages to be funny and heartbreaking at the same time; Schine has a gift for transforming the pathos and comedy of everyday life into luminous fiction. B+

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