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The Day My Mother Left    by James Prosek order for
Day My Mother Left
by James Prosek
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This tale of a familial breakup introduces a new element to the familiar equation, in that the young narrator's unhappiness parallels the development of his artistic abilities and introduces the notion that emotional pain might increase maturity and deepen such a talent.

Jeremy's parents, Phoebe and Carl, are always fighting and everyone in the community knows about it. Phoebe clearly has problems - she drinks too much and often acts in inappropriate ways and says inappropriate things. Then one day, she simply leaves her family and moves in with Paul Sullivan, the father of bullying Evan, Jeremy's nemesis at school.

After Phoebe leaves, Carl is in despair. Nine-year-old Jeremy's elder sister Julie has her own car and spends most of her time away from home. Inexplicably, Jeremy doesn't see his mother again for three years. Carl quotes to Jeremy something his own father told him, 'There's no bad that doesn't come for some good.' Is that really true?

Summer comes and in his misery and loneliness Jeremy connects with nature and begins to paint birds every day (his sketches introduce the chapters of the book). His Uncle John acts as a surrogate father, taking him fishing and hunting. Jeremy learns more about both of his parents and their flaws. Life goes on. Carl meets Susan, and Jeremy meets Casey at drawing classes.

Finally Jeremy does see his mother again. She expresses no regrets - and she still has problems. Jeremy muses, 'I knew my mom was crazy, and she was sometimes wrong. But she wasn't wrong all the time ... She told me I was going to be an artist. She said things happen for a reason and make us stronger. I hope she's right.'

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