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One True Thing
Cover of One True Thing
One True Thing
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “[Anna Quindlen] writes passionately . . . painstakingly uncovering all the intensity, suspicion and primitive love that bonds mothers and daughters.”—The Boston Globe
 
Ellen Gulden is enjoying her career as a successful magazine writer in New York City when she learns that her mother, Kate, is dying of cancer. Ellen’s father insists that she quit her job and return home to become a caregiver. A high-powered career woman, Ellen has never felt she had much in common with her mother, a homemaker and the heart of their family. Yet as Ellen begins to spend time with Kate, she discovers many surprising truths, not only about herself, but also about the woman she thought she knew so well.
 
Later, when Ellen is accused of the mercy killing of her mother, she must not only defend her own life but make a difficult choice—either accept responsibility for an act she did not commit or divulge the name of the person she believes committed a painful act of love.
 
Praise for One True Thing
 
“A triumph.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“We leave One True Thing stimulated and challenged, more thoughtful than when we began.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Like a brush with mortality, One True Thing leaves the reader feeling grateful, wide awake, lucky to be alive.”—Michael Chabon
 
“It calls you back for another read. . . . This is a book of catharsis.”The Denver Post
 
“Fiercely compassionate and frank.”Elle
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “[Anna Quindlen] writes passionately . . . painstakingly uncovering all the intensity, suspicion and primitive love that bonds mothers and daughters.”—The Boston Globe
 
Ellen Gulden is enjoying her career as a successful magazine writer in New York City when she learns that her mother, Kate, is dying of cancer. Ellen’s father insists that she quit her job and return home to become a caregiver. A high-powered career woman, Ellen has never felt she had much in common with her mother, a homemaker and the heart of their family. Yet as Ellen begins to spend time with Kate, she discovers many surprising truths, not only about herself, but also about the woman she thought she knew so well.
 
Later, when Ellen is accused of the mercy killing of her mother, she must not only defend her own life but make a difficult choice—either accept responsibility for an act she did not commit or divulge the name of the person she believes committed a painful act of love.
 
Praise for One True Thing
 
“A triumph.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“We leave One True Thing stimulated and challenged, more thoughtful than when we began.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Like a brush with mortality, One True Thing leaves the reader feeling grateful, wide awake, lucky to be alive.”—Michael Chabon
 
“It calls you back for another read. . . . This is a book of catharsis.”The Denver Post
 
“Fiercely compassionate and frank.”Elle
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Subjects-
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    1050
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    6 - 9

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book I remember that the last completely normal day we ever had in our lives, my brothers and I, was an ordinary day much like this one, a muggy August-into-September weekday, the sky low and gray over Langhorne, clouds as flat as an old comforter hanging between the two slight ridges that edged the town. We’d gone to the Tastee Freeze for soft ice cream that day, driving in Jeff’s battered open jeep with our arms out the windows. My brothers were handsome boys who have turned into handsome men. Brian has our father’s black hair and blue eyes, Jeffrey our mother’s coloring, auburn hair and eyes like amber and a long face with freckles.
     
    Both of them were tanned that day, at the end of their summer jobs as camp counselor and landscapes I was pale from a summer spent in a New York office on weekdays and house-guesting at Fire Island weekends, spending more time at cocktail parties than on the beach, where melanoma and Retin-A were frequent talking points among my acquaintances.
     
    Afterward I wondered why I hadn’t loved that day more, why I hadn’t savored every bit of it like soft ice cream on my tongue, why I hadn’t known how good it was to live so normally, so everyday. But you only know that, I suppose, after it’s not normal and everyday any longer. And nothing ever was, after that day. It was a Thursday, and I was still my old self, smug, self-involved, successful, and what in my circles passed for happy.
     
    “Ellen’s got the life,” said Jeff, who’d been asking about the magazine where I worked. “She gets paid to be a wiseass for a living. You go to parties, you talk to people, you make fun of them in print. It’s like getting paid to breathe. Or play tennis.”
     
    “You could get paid to play tennis,” I said. “It’s called being a tennis pro.”
     
    “Oh, right,” said Jeff, “with our father?” He sucked the ice cream from the bottom of his cone. “Excuse me, Pop? Mr. Life of the Mind? I’ve decided to move to Hilton Head and become a tennis pro. But I’ll be reading Flaubert in my spare time.”
     
    “Is it possible for one of you to make a life decision without wondering what Papa will find wrong with it?” I said.
     
    My brothers hooted and jeered. “Oh, great,” said Jeff. “Ellen Gulden renounces paternal approval! And only twenty-four years too late.”
     
    “Mom is happy with anything I do,” said Brian.
     
    “Oh, well, Mom,” said Jeff.
     
    “Jeffrey man,” someone called across the parking lot. “Brian!” My brothers lifted their hands in desultory salutes. “What’s up?” Jeff called back.
     
    “I’m history here,” I said.
     
    “You were history here when you were here,” said Jeff. “No offense, El. You’re a hungry puppy, always were a hungry puppy, and the world don’t like you hungry puppies. People are afraid you’re going to bite them.”
     
    “Why are you talking like a cracker radio commentator?” I said.
     
    “See, Bri, Ellen never relaxes. New York is her kind of place. An entire city of people who never relax, who were antsy in their own hometowns. So long, hungry puppy. Go where the dogs eat the dogs.”
     
    The light was dull yellow because of the low clouds, like a solitary bulb in a dark room. The asphalt was soft in the driveway under our feet, the smell of charcoal drifting over...
About the Author-
  • Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, Every Last One, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Miller’s Valley. Her memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 4, 1999
    Quindlen's story of a woman accused of helping her mortally ill mother die spent seven weeks on PW's bestseller list

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 1, 1994
    Quindlen (Object Lessons) again examines delicate family dynamics with this resonating tale of a matriarch's illness and the tempest of emotion that swirls around her deterioration and death. Manhattan psychiatrist Ellen Gulden recalls the dark time nearly a decade ago when she was accused of administering a fatal dosage of morphine to her mother, who was suffering with terminal cancer. Back then, intelligent, overachieving Ellen was forced by her domineering father to abandon a promising magazine career and assume the role of companion and caretaker at her family's suburban home. While tending her failing mother, Ellen discovered some harsh truths about herself, her parents and the relationships they had developed over the years. Following Kate Gulden's autopsy, circumstantial evidence-as far-reaching as a high-school essay she wrote championing euthanasia-accumulated against Ellen, and she was arrested. Now cleared of charges and estranged from her father, Ellen speculates on what really happened during the final hours of Kate's life. Quindlen's talent for weaving a believable reality from her characters' complex sentiments shines here, and her portraits are full-bodied and carefully drawn. Unfortunately, Ellen's digressions are often too broad in scope, incorporating peripheral characters and aiming to discuss several themes (i.e., friendship, sex, the cost of ambition) at once; these introspections occasionally slow the narrative, especially in the novel's second half. These stylistic points aside, Quindlen's story sustains an emotional momentum, and she addresses difficult issues with compassion.

  • Alice Hoffman "It is simply impossible to forget."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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One True Thing
A Novel
Anna Quindlen
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