Vintage Contemporaries

Amy and Isabelle

A novel

Publisher: Vintage
National Bestseller

In her stunning first novel, Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout evokes a teenager's alienation from her distant mother—and a parent's rage at the discovery of her daughter's sexual secrets. In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her 16-year-old daughter, a fierce mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every glance. And eating, sleeping, and working side by side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls doesn't help matters. But when Amy is discovered behind the steamed-up windows of a car with her math teacher, the vast and icy distance between mother and daughter becomes unbridgeable.

As news of the scandal reaches every ear, it is Isabelle who suffers from the harsh judgment of Shirley Falls, intensifying her shame about her own secret past. And as Amy seeks comfort elsewhere, she discovers the fragility of human happiness through other dramas, from the horror of a missing child to the trials of Fat Bev, the community peacemaker. Witty and often profound, Amy and Isabelle confirms Elizabeth Strout as a powerful new talent.

READ AN EXCERPT

It was terribly hot that summer Mr. Robertson left town, and for a long while the river seemed dead. Just a dead brown snake of a thing lying flat through the center of town, dirty yellow foam collecting at its edge. Strangers driving by on the turnpike rolled up their windows at the gagging, sulfurous smell and wondered...
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READING GUIDE

"Stunning. . . . Heartbreaking. . . . This novelist is destined for great things." --San Francisco Chronicle

The story of a single mother and her teenage daughter during one fateful year, Amy and Isabelle illuminates the complexities that lie at the heart of the first, and most intimate,...
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PRAISE FOR

"One of those rare, invigorating books that take an apparently familiar world and peer into it with ruthless intimacy, revealing a strange and startling place." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Strout's insights into the complex psychology bewteen [mother and daughter] result in a poignant tale about two coming of age." --Time

"Impressive....Strout writes with abundant warmth." --People

"Poignant...sensitively imagined...[Amy and Isabelle] recalls the elgegiac charm of Our Town." --The Christian Science Monitor

"Stunning....Every once in a while, a novel comes along that plunges deep into your psyche, leaving you breathless....This year that novel is Amy and Isabelle." --San Francisco Chronicle

"A novel of shining integrity and humor, about the bravery and hard choices of what is called ordinary life." --Alice Munro

"Excellent....Strout's collective portrait...remains unflaggingly engaging....[W]hat a pleasure to gain entry into the world of this book." --The New Yorker

"Lovely, powerful...a kind if modern 'Rapunzel.'" --Newsweek

"Amy and Isabelle is an impressive debut....with an expansiveness and inventiveness that is the mark of a true storyteller." --The Philadelphia Inquirer