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Piece of Mind
Cover of Piece of Mind
Piece of Mind
A Novel
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Told with warmth and intelligence, Piece of Mind introduces one of the most endearing and heroic characters in contemporary fiction.

At twenty-seven, Lucy knows everything about coffee, comic books, and Gus (the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo), and she possesses a rare gift for drawing. But since she suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of three, she has had trouble relating to most people. She's also uncommonly messy, woefully disorganized, and incapable of holding down a regular job. When unexpected circumstances force her out of the comfortable and protective Jewish home where she was raised and into a cramped studio apartment in New York City with her college-age younger brother, she must adapt to an entirely different life?one with no safety net. Over the course of a challenging summer, Lucy is forced to discover that she has more strengths than she herself knew.

Told with warmth and intelligence, Piece of Mind introduces one of the most endearing and heroic characters in contemporary fiction.

At twenty-seven, Lucy knows everything about coffee, comic books, and Gus (the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo), and she possesses a rare gift for drawing. But since she suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of three, she has had trouble relating to most people. She's also uncommonly messy, woefully disorganized, and incapable of holding down a regular job. When unexpected circumstances force her out of the comfortable and protective Jewish home where she was raised and into a cramped studio apartment in New York City with her college-age younger brother, she must adapt to an entirely different life?one with no safety net. Over the course of a challenging summer, Lucy is forced to discover that she has more strengths than she herself knew.

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About the Author-
  • Michelle Adelman has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University, and BS and MS degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Fiction Writers Review, Extract(s), and elsewhere. She lives in San Diego.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 7, 2015
    Adelman’s debut novel is a moving story of grief, resilience, and self-actualization. Since suffering a traumatic brain injury at the age of three, Lucy has felt misunderstood by her peers. She prefers to spend time with animals, drawing them with unusual skill and empathy. At 27, Lucy feels like she is simply existing rather than living: she resides with her father in her suburban childhood home outside Manhattan and has fallen into a complacent routine. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Lucy is forced to leave a familiar life behind and move into her younger brother’s studio apartment in New York City, where she is thrown into a series of unfamiliar circumstances that lead her to discover her strength. As Lucy becomes more self-aware, she begins to better understand those around her, most poignantly her brother, whom she previously imagined to be perfect. Adelma fully inhabits Lucy’s voice, and the resulting tale is as realistic as it is uplifting.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2015
    A wayward woman with little executive function tries to wrest back control of her life. The classic advice to write what you know guides many a debut, often to fine effect. Adelman's first novel is a tender example of this tenet--in the acknowledgments, she offers a tribute to her sister, "whose brain helped inspire Lucy's." And her heroine's brain, damaged in an early childhood car accident, is a marvel: Lucy describes it as "a pinball machine lit up with pockets of potential." When we meet her, that potential has lain dormant for a while. Coddled by a well-intentioned dad who leaves her a to-do list every morning that includes showering and dressing, Lucy spends her days drinking coffee and trying not to leave the house. Daily tasks and interactions flummox her, but she finds a safe haven in her sketchbook and passing glimpses of her mother, who died many years earlier. This haven implodes when Lucy's father has a sudden heart attack: her absent younger brother, Nate (a polished 21-year-old who "didn't have an awkward phase"), swoops in from college, sets her up in his tiny New York apartment, and kicks off the rest of their story. Plenty of plot follows, and minor characters traipse in and out, but none of that is the reason to read Adelman's book. Lean in instead for the relationship between brother and sister, for its evolution as Lucy builds the strength and willingness both to take care of herself and to recognize and accept Nate's shortcomings. The chronicle of this incremental shift is peppered with her drawings of people and animals--all done by the author's sister--which play no small role in making Lucy's often hazy perspective feel sharply real. This labor of love pens a soft-edged portrait of a subject who struggles to grasp complexity.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from November 15, 2015

    When Lucy was three years old, she was struck by a truck and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Since then, she's had more challenges than most. As she's quick to say, she lacks executive functions: she's disorganized and nonlinear; and she sometimes sees, feels, and smells her mother, who was killed in a tragic accident when Lucy was 14. Lucy connects with animals and loves to sketch--her love of animals competes only with her nearly obsessive love of coffee. At 27, she lives with her father, making disjointed attempts to secure a job in response to his excessive goading, while finding it impossible to keep a single outfit clean enough to be presentable. When their father dies unexpectedly, Nate, Lucy's younger brother, agrees to share his tiny New York apartment with her, but her needs begin to take priority until he starts to crumble under pressure. VERDICT Lucy's narrative is sensitive, witty, and illuminating; her innate connection to Gus, the Central Park polar bear, is excellently drawn. Her journey and the evolution of her relationships offer a rare glance at the unknowable. Lovers of Liz Moore's Heft will want to read this debut novel.--Julie Kane, Washington & Lee Lib., Lexington, VA

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni Like the Tourettes-ticcing Lionel Essrog in Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn, or the obsessive-compulsive Mona Gray in Aimee Bender's An Invisible Sign of My Own, Michelle Adelman's heroine—and she definitely is that—travels a path that is by nature solitary, yet intersects with all that is best in ourselves. I hope you'll root for Lucy's success as much as I do.
  • Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves Piece of Mind is such a beautiful debut, one that will indelibly imprint the reader with Lucy's unique voice and vision. Michelle Adelman is so articulate about what we know and cannot say, what we can barely stand to know, and what we bravely face each day as individuals in families, together and alone.
  • Cathleen Schine, author of Fin and Lady and The Three Weissmanns of Westport Piece of Mind is animated by sense and innocence. Michelle Adelman has written a truly charming novel full of humor and warmth. Sex and drugs and polar bears abound.
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    W. W. Norton & Company
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Piece of Mind
A Novel
Michelle Adelman
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