Sunday, September 09, 2007

Pg. 99: Renee Rosen's "Every Crooked Pot"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Renee Rosen's Every Crooked Pot.

About the book, from the author's website:
Nina Goldman is the youngest of three growing up in Akron, Ohio in the 70s. She and her siblings must cope with their larger-than-life father, Artie, a colorblind carpet salesman and frustrated musician. Forever the dreamer and schemer, Artie engages in outrageous antics that both mesmerize and mortify his family.

Growing up as Artie's daughter would be difficult enough, but Nina has another issue to face. Born with a strawberry birthmark (known as a hemangioma) over her eye, Nina strives to look normal, and fit in with the others, showing us just how far one girl will go to be loved.
Among the praise for Every Crooked Pot:
"In a debut novel that could easily have been published as an adult memoir, Rosen looks back at the life of Nina Goldman, whose growing up is tied to two pillars: a port-wine stain around her eye and her inimitable father, Artie. The birthmark, she hates; her father, she loves. Both shape her in ways that merit Rosen’s minute investigation, which begins with an incident both funny and shocking. Stopped for speeding, her father tells the officer he is rushing young Nina to the hospital and shows him her eye, which looks as though it’s hemorrhaging. When the cop leaves, father and daughter take off for the beach. The story highlights how Nina’s eye is both liability and excuse, and it reveals the high-wire act that is her father—an emotional man who shapes reality and the people around him. As Nina grows older, readers feel the pain she endures by being physically marked (boys bark at “the dog”). Difficult in different ways is having a father whose love feels like sunshine; withheld, all is dark. There’s real power in the writing as well as a subtle message when a grown Nina finds a cache of notes, showing how she clung to her disability, even after treatment. Rosen writes honestly about sex, and there are some raw words, but this story offers hope for teenagers who, as ever, are trying to separate from their perceived flaws, and from their parents."
--Ilene Cooper, Booklist (starred review)

"Every Crooked Pot is a beautifully nuanced tale about an extraordinary family and even more extraordinary young woman. Not since Myla Goldberg's Bee Season has a first novel so deftly captured the complexities, joys, and frustrations of daughters and their families. It's hard to believe this is a debut -- Rosen's voice is already as good as it gets. Keep an eye out for this rising star."
--Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

"Every Crooked Pot is a work of courage, with a dose of sassy audacity thrown in for good measure. Humiliation, sorrow, tears, humor and candor, this is a novel so full of heart and emotion, it’s impossible to detach yourself from it. Renee Rosen is a rare find in today’s jungle of women’s fiction!"
--Carrie Kabak, author of Cover the Butter

"It's so tempting to compare Renee Rosen's debut to similar auspicious literary starts - Anna Quindlen's Object Lessons comes to mind - but that would be doing the book a disservice since Every Crooked Pot stands in a class by itself. Populated with vivid characters, at the center of which is resilient heroine Nina Goldman, this bittersweet novel will lift hearts while at the same time making readers wonder, Where has Renee Rosen been hiding all these years?"
--Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of Vertigo

"Realistic, sharp and funny, Renee Rosen perfectly captures what it's like to be stuck on the outside longing to get in. A beautiful, poignant, and impressive debut -- I didn't want it to end.
--Alyson Noel, author of Laguna Cove

"Told with wit, wisdom, and characters so realistically drawn that they breathe, this poignant story of angst and redemption will touch the heart of anyone who ever longed to be 'normal' enough to be loved.
--Sandra Kring, author of Carry Me Home and The Book of Bright Ideas

"Every Crooked Pot is a funny, heartfelt and beautifully perceptive novel. In her insightful character study, Renee Rosen takes the reader deep inside the heart and mind of a delightfully real young protagonist. In her spirited portrayal of an ordinary -- yet improbable -- American family, Rosen illuminates great unspoken truths about young women, about daughters, and about all families.
--Adrienne Miller, former literary editor of Esquire & author of The Coast of Akron
Read an excerpt from Every Crooked Pot and learn more about the novel at Rosen's website and her blog.

The Page 99 Test: Every Crooked Pot.

--Marshal Zeringue