On Sale: October 28, 2006
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Originally published in 1994 to critical acclaim, Singing
Songs still resonates as a profound statement about the
secrets families keep from the rest of the world, as Anna,
the resilient young narrator, journeys through childhood
trapped in a fragmented family caught in a cycle of abuse,
denial, and neglect. This new edition includes a foreword by
the author, reflecting on how Singing Songs came to be written.
Anna's mother came home one day, scrubbed the apartment from
top to bottom, brushed out her hair, and opened the door to
a stranger. He was tall, with a smile that showed too many
teeth, and the way he called Mama beautiful made Anna cry
The stranger married Mama and moved in, bringing
his family with him - two girls and a boy with gangly limbs,
toast-colored hair, and no possessions of their own. So Anna
had a new family and found that her life contained a new and
forceful presence: Richard.
Shaped by an exacting cinematic
sensibility, Singing Songs explores how one family lives,
centerless, caught in a flux of emotion and violence that
touches and transforms each of its members. Nomadic and
insular, Anna's family follows the shifting sands of
temporary employment, fleeing from social workers, schools,
and nearly all the conventions of society. Anna makes pets
of barn owls and a fawn, and paints radiators with her hands
during a summer work trip on the road. She pretends
fiercely, imagines grandly, and when Richard comes upstairs
at night for "kissing lessons," she winds herself and her
sister tightly in a sheet, cocoon-like, for protection.
And gradually, with all the force of innocence and a fierce
loyalty to herself, Anna seizes pieces of the world as her
Singing Songs is the masterful realization of a young
girl's journey to adulthood in a chaotic, abusive, and
fragmented world; an affirmation of a child's ability to use
her judgment and imagination alone to light her way. It is
the story of a strange and beautiful metamorphosis and a
profound statement about the dark and secret places of
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