Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking: A Novel by Aoibheann Sweeney

amongPenguin, 2007. ISBN: 1594201307

This adult title has much to recommend itself to mature teen readers. Miranda has grown up largely alone on an island off the coast of Maine with her father. Her mother died (possibly a suicide) when she was three. For many years Jonas Blackwell, a local fisherman, spent a great deal of time with Miranda and her father, taking on a great deal of parenting from James who was distracted at the best of times and absorbed in his work translating Ovid for hours at a time. The relationship between the two men, and the cause for their break is never explained, partially because the story is seen through Miranda’s innocent eyes.

After Miranda graduates high school, her father arranges for a job for her in Manhattan, not so far by miles, but a world away from her simple island life. In Manhattan, Miranda begins to get more clues about her father’s life, and begins to get in touch with her own sexuality and her desires to go to art school. The ending is left almost literally in a fog as Miranda returns to the Maine with someone she met in Manhattan, and then abandons her on the shore, possibly permanently or maybe only temporarily.

This is a powerful coming of age story.

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