Book Review: Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs

7:07 pm

'Twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin yearns to escape her provincial home. She moves to the college town of Troy to start university and takes a job as a part-time nanny to a glamorous couple. Tassie is drawn into their life and that of their newly adopted toddler. As the household reveals its complications, Tassie is forced out of her naivety, and the past and the future burst forth in dramatic and shocking ways.'

I love coming across a book that, when finished, makes me want to consume the entirety of the author's canon as soon as possible. A Gate at the Stairs is a beautifully written story of a young woman and her journey from her hometown to university, finding a job as a nanny to a white couple in the process of adopting a black daughter. The story is one of race and the reactions of people to each other in a paranoid post-9/11 world.

The book starts slow, introducing the reader to Tassie and her world, the things she loves, and the fears she has for the future. Coming from a small farming household, a university town opens up a whole new world to her, a world that is full of paranoia and tragedy. I was gripped from the first chapter despite there being little 'story', with Moore's storytelling making me feel attached to Tassie from page one. About two-thirds into the book is where the real dramas set in and, boy, does it all happen very quickly. Unfortunately I found the ending of the book a bit slow after the highs it reaches, but Moore's style is one I didn't tire with at all.

I would recommend A Gate at the Stairs to young women unsure of their future and interested in issues of race and gender. I thought this was close to the perfect novel for me and, as I said before, made me want to read everything else Lorrie Moore has written. A beautifully tragic tale echoing the racial issues that our world cannot seem to get rid of however hard it tries.

**** / 5 (maybe 4.5)

M x

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