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Lily and Mabel's father committed suicide, their mother left them with their grandmother, and their grandmother left them for a Florida condo. Closing in on their twenties, they seek to have normal lives but have no model for what normal is. The dusty, cluttered junk shop where they live is a metaphor for their eccentric and confused lives. Lily, the younger of the two, steals a car and heads for Mexico to find Mom. Mabel, abandoned once more, clears out the junk shop by moving everything into the front yard and chooses as a boyfriend someone who understands loss his sister drowned in a pool accident. Schaffert creates funny, bizarre, and yet touching characters who possess depth and breadth. The result is yet another madcap coming-of-age story but one that speaks to the plight of the current generation. Despite suicide, abandonment, poverty, and isolation, it appears that the Rollow girls will always muddle through. Full of surprises, Schaffert's debut is recommended for public libraries. Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Providence Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Schaffert's heartfelt debut features two young misfit sisters left alone to run a junk shop in rural Nebraska. Mabel and Lily Rollow (21 and 18, respectively) have inherited the jumbled store from their grandmother, who left their small town a few months earlier. This latest act of neglect opens the childhood wounds of their father's suicide and their mother's abandonment, the phantom limbs through which they feel very real pain. The sisters draw strength from each other, but are as different as they can be physically and temperamentally; seductive Lily is kittenish and quixotic, while heavyset, bespectacled Mabel is the sensible one. The girls do agree on their mutual object of affection, 19-year-old Jordan, the cheap wine-swilling "cute ruin" who likens his preoccupation with suicide to "having a crush on a mean girl." But he falls for Lily and the lovebirds embark on a road trip to the Southwest to find the girls' mother, leaving Mabel alone to run the shop and exorcise her demons (a process that involves visiting a brain-damaged, former glue-sniffing addict rumored to communicate with the dead). Though the emotional terrain is familiar, and Schaffert occasionally overexplains his characters, the wistful coming-of-age story is solidly crafted and enlivened by quirky, Gothic touches and gentle humor. National publicity; online reading group guide. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Schaffert captures the sisters' genuine need to make sense of abandonment...He creates a colorful, not unduly precious world in which everything seems to mirror the sisters' idiosyncrasies." "Sad, often funny, and extraordinarily seductive. This book is quite an achievement." "Rich and dusty with wisdom, with many of the same delicate surprises you'd find in the Nebraska antiques store his characters have grown up in." "The plight of the Rollow sisters begins like a fairy tale...but rather than waiting to be rescued, these girls are up to the task of slaying dragons from their weird childhood on their own...The descriptive gifts of the author are great. I want to know what becomes of these brave and funny sisters." boondocks-Gothicquietly tragicThe sisters lose their childhood innocence only to acquire an adult version As long as the sisters have each other, nothing else matters. The Washington Post blithe, quirkyspirited, offbeat Like his characters, Mr. Schaffert grew up on a farm in Nebraska and seems to have cultivated a sense of exquisite boredom mixed with wry humor he displays an outlook well suited to the paradoxical. Janet Maslin, The New York Times Timothy Schaffert is a delightful and startling new voice [The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters] avoids even a hint of pathos while sometimes being sad, often funny, and extraordinarily seductive. This book is quite an achievement. Robb Forman Dew (winner of the National Book Award) ..".blithe, quirky...spirited, offbeat... Like his characters, Mr. Schaffert grew up on a farm in Nebraska and seems to have cultivated a sense of exquisite boredom mixed with wry humor ... he displays an outlook well suited to the paradoxical." - Janet Maslin, The New York Times ..".boondocks-Gothic...quietly tragic...The sisters lose their childhood innocence only to acquire an adult version... As long as the sisters have each other, nothing else matters." - The Washington Post "One has to admire an author who sets his first novel in rural Nebraska. That landscape was put on the literary map a century ago by Willa Cather ... in The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters by Timothy Schaffert, a narrative both sweet and audacious unfolds, encroaching Cather's pinnacle just a bit. ... I wanted to know what becomes of these brave and funny sisters. The descriptive gifts of the author are great." - United Press International "Timothy Schaffert is a delightful and startling new voice ... [The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters] avoids even a hint of pathos while sometimes being sad, often funny, and extraordinarily seductive. This book is quite an achievement." - Robb Forman Dew "Perceptive and intelligent." - The Midwest Book Review "An inventive story and endearing characters." - Booklist "A worthy first novel ... The characters are flawed but believable, vulnerable but resilient." - The Post & Courier "Timothy Schaffert writes of connections made, connections broken, connections longed for. His writing is gritty and down to earth, and yet, he writes poetic images of powerful and painful beauty that transcend any earth-bound tether. Two sisters, powerfully joined even when far apart, move through seemingly unfathomable events, trying to make sense of their world, as it was, is, and will be. Schaffert is an estimable guide through their haunted existence." - Glenn Raucher, Literary Arts Coordinator, The Writer's Voice New York