And Me Among Them by Kristen den Hartog

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Ironically, it’s only when the action picks up, near the end, that the novel starts to sag...For the most part, though, this is an elegant, satisfying investigation of small-town Canadian life, teenage isolation and the universal quest for acceptance.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

Ruth grew too fast.

As a young girl over seven feet tall, she looms over adults and has a unique bird’s-eye perspective. She does not just remember but watches her past play out: her ongoing struggle to conceal the physical and mental symptoms that accompany her rapid growth, to connect with other children, and to appease her concerned parents, Elspeth, an English seamstress who lost her family to the war, and James, a mailman rethinking his constant compliance to his wife’s decisions. Not knowing what to do about Ruth, Elspeth and James turn inward, away from one another, and as their marriage falters, Ruth finds herself increasingly drawn to the dangerous girl, Suzy, next door.

Ruth is not precocious, nor a prodigy, but she has extraordinary vision, and, despite what her uncommon exterior might suggest, she is exceedingly sensitive to the world below her. Possessing an uncanny ability to intuit the emotional secrets of her family’s past and present, Ruth gently surfaces Elspeth and James’s vulnerabilities, their regrets, and their deepest longings.

 

About Kristen den Hartog

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Kristen den Hartog is the author of the novels Water Wings, The Perpetual Ending, and Origin of Haloes, as well as The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-torn Holland, written with her sister, Tracy Kasaboski, about the life of their father’s family during the Second World War.
 
Published March 30, 2011 by Freehand Books. 208 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Hingston on Jun 17 2011

Ironically, it’s only when the action picks up, near the end, that the novel starts to sag...For the most part, though, this is an elegant, satisfying investigation of small-town Canadian life, teenage isolation and the universal quest for acceptance.

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