Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam

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Winner of the 2011 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

Lamb traces the self-discovery of David Lamb, a narcissistic middle aged man with a tendency toward dishonesty, in the weeks following the disintegration of his marriage and the death of his father. Hoping to regain some faith in his own goodness, he turns his attention to Tommie, an awkward and unpopular eleven-year-old girl. Lamb is convinced that he can help her avoid a destiny of apathy and emptiness, and even comes to believe that his devotion to Tommie is in her best interest. But when Lamb decides to abduct a willing Tommie for a road trip from Chicago to the Rockies, planning to initiate her into the beauty of the mountain wilderness, they are both shaken in ways neither of them expects.
   Lamb is a masterful exploration of the dynamics of love and dependency that challenges the boundaries between adolescence and adulthood, confronts preconceived notions about conventional morality, and exposes mankind’s eroded relationship with nature.

About Bonnie Nadzam

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Bonnie Nadzam was born in Cleveland, went to high school in suburban Chicago, and has moved continually westward since then. She studied English literature and environmental studies at Carleton College, and earned an MA and PhD from the University of Southern California. Her fiction and poetry have been published in The Kenyon Review, The Mississippi Review, Story Quarterly, Callaloo, The Alaska Quarterly Review, and others. She taught at Colorado College, where she served for two years as the Daehler Fellowin Creative Writing. She is married to her childhood love and lives with him in the Rocky Mountains.
Published September 13, 2011 by Other Press. 289 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lamb

Kirkus Reviews

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The title refers to David Lamb, who’s recently lost his father, and who has had an inadvertent encounter with 11-year-old Tommie, a girl dared by her two friends to bum a cigarette off of David outside a convenience store.

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The Guardian

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By Alfred Hickling

Nov 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Publishers Weekly

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David's wife has left him, his father has died, and his work life is in shambles when outside a strip mall he meets a seventh-grade girl, "a pale little freckled pig with eyelashes" named Tommie, whom he entices into a pretend kidnap game "to scare" her friends.

Jun 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Star Tribune

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There is a powerful beauty in this sad and controlled story, with Nadzam avoiding simple judgments.

Sep 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb


David makes a decision: he’s going to help her.

Jul 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Lamb

The Telegraph

Lamb drinks it in and loses himself in elaborate bucolic fantasies that he shares with Tommie and, we soon realise, his other women in lieu of genuine affection.

Dec 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Washington Independent Review of Books

But the heart of the story lies in discovering the kind of man this little girl can make of David Lamb, and the kind of girl Lamb can make of Tommie.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Early on in Lamb, the striking and disturbing first novel by Bonnie Nadzam, a fifty-four-year-old man abducts a girl from a Chicago parking lot.

Nov 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

We Love This Book

Lamb and Tommie meet up again and before long Lamb has talked a willing yet immature Tommie round to joining him on a secret vacation.

Nov 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Lamb

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Nadzam manages to make both Lamb and Tommie sympathetic characters at the same time that the reader cringes with disgust.

Oct 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Bookmarks Magazine

Do you think that nature played a role in the evolution of their relationship? A: I think Tommie and Lamb, both, are hoping to find something that transcends ordinary life, or contemporary American culture—and not only their lives in it, but their dependency on and service to that ...

Sep 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Time Out New York

Lamb is the story of the surprisingly tender, highly inappropriate love that springs up between a desperate man in his fifties, David Lamb, and the lonely 11-year-old, Tommie, that he encounters by chance on the depressing streets of suburban Chicago.

Sep 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Time Out Chicago

The two strike up what could charitably be called an uneasy friendship, with Lamb convincing himself he’s finally doing right by guiding Tommie, and Tommie happy for the attention and the wealthier Lamb’s gifts.

Sep 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Newcity Lit

Bonnie Nadzam’s “Lamb” is that rarest of literature: a debut novel whose spare, eloquent imagery entices, whose facile dialogue rings absolutely true, whose ideas and emotions endure when we turn the last page.

Oct 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

Full Stop

Over the next few weeks, Lamb systematically takes over her life and affection: he picks her up from her bus stop and takes her out first for breakfast, then for whole days, reasoning: “He could show her something else, just briefly, just for a page of her life.

Dec 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

The Coffin Factory

The style and language of LAMB, the debut novel from Bonnie Nadzam, is delightfully impressive.

Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Lamb

High Country News

But Tommie is more innocent than Lolita, and although Nadzam includes several uncomfortable scenes in which boundaries are almost crossed, Lamb's intentions toward the girl are not sexual.

Feb 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Lamb

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