Secondhand Smoke by Patty Friedmann

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A gorgeous tragicomic novel of working-class New Orleans. Zib and Wilson Bailey-Jerusha's two grown kids-think the thick cloud of cigarette smoke enveloping their mother is what probably killed their father. Certainly the toxicity of Jerusha Bailey's dark and cynical attitudes has driven her children far from home. Wilson has escaped to Chicago, married, converted to Judaism, become a professor of Organic Evolution, all of which earns his mother's scorn. She doesn't think much of her daughter either: Zib, almost forty, unmarried and directionless, has made it only as far as the Florida Panhandle, where she's the assistant manager at the local Winn-Dixie and must fight off her boss's affections.So obliviously isolated is Jerusha, only one person is left in her sights: Dustin Puglia, chubby, wise, and fearless, a ten-year-old living next door with a poisonous mother of his own. The two become attached in this hilarious story of responsibility and blame. Secondhand Smoke is a deeply universal tale of blunt truth and hard-earned redemption.

About Patty Friedmann

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Patty Friedmann is the author of three previous novels, "Odds," "Eleanor Rushing," and "The Exact Image of Mother,
Published September 1, 2002 by Counterpoint. 240 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Secondhand Smoke

Kirkus Reviews

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The dark comedy lacing the plot to this point leaches away as Wilson and Zib make muddled efforts to rescue her: Zib goes on a bender with Dustin’s mom, her childhood friend, who winds up in a terminal hepatic coma, while Wilson, tipped off about Jerusha’s whereabouts, finds her sleeping in the b...

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Publishers Weekly

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Odds) careens among the viewpoints of Ru, Wilson and Zib;

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Star Tribune

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Review: The characters in this darkly comic novel aren't people you'd choose to hang out with in real life, but Friedmann's careful layering of humanizing detail ultimately provokes a grudging empathy.

Dec 21 2002 | Read Full Review of Secondhand Smoke

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