“For 10-year-old Evelyn Bucknow, there really is no place like home. On all the world maps she’s ever seen, the United States has been smack dab in the middle, with Kansas in the middle of that. “I feel so lucky to live here, right in the center,” she proclaims, in Moriarty’s wonderfully down-to-earth debut. Dazzled by visions of Ronald Reagan on the television, the twinkle in his eye and his contention that “God put America between two oceans on purpose,” Evelyn’s youthful optimism is shaken by her young single mother Tina’s inability to take control of her life. As Tina falls for her married boss, who gives her a car (his contribution to the trickle-down theory) but leaves her pregnant and shattered, Evelyn grows closer to her neighbor, a curly-haired scamp named Travis (who has eyes only for Evelyn’s stunning friend, Deena) and her Bible-thumping grandmother, a regular listener to Jerry Falwell’s radio show. As a teenager, she is influenced by a couple of liberal-minded teachers, one an émigré from New York and the other an introverted biology instructor intent on teaching evolution, but she never cuts her family ties. With renewed faith in her scatterbrained but endearing mother and with college on the horizon, she begins to find her place in the social and political spectrum and to appreciate the vastness of a world that just might extend beyond the Sunflower State. Moriarty deftly treads the line between adolescence and adulthood, and insecurity and self-assurance, offering a moving portrait of life in blue-collar middle America.”
“An intelligent and charming debut novel.”
“Moriarty builds an addictive and moving portrait of this poor Midwestern girl in the Eighties, reminiscent of Delores in Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone, so well realized that one forgets it is fiction and so infectious that one never wants to put it down, even after turning to the last page.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
"The Center of Everything is as realistic and familiar as a summer day in Kansas—brave and gritty, strong voiced and spare."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“Laura Moriarty’s first novel . . . is pretty irresistible almost from the first paragraph: a comic and precisely observed tale of growing up and leaving home in Reagan’s America, it also manages to circle back and hit us where we live now.”
—The New York Observer
“[A] huge-hearted first novel . . . there is so much goodness in this book, and such an abundance of extraordinary writing . . .”
“Reminds the reader of the full spectrum of youthful experience in all its beauty, anger, and pain . . . lively and endearing.”
—Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
“Engaging . . . her voice sounds oddly familiar . . . like that of Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, only older, savvier, and less fortunate.”
“A winning first novel.”
“A truly exceptional coming-of-age story, perfect for readers of all ages.”
“By the end of this beautifully evocative novel, we realize the paradox: Nothing and everything happens here. Evelyn’s voice illuminates the most mundane observations, turning the ordinary extraordinary.”
“Graceful and poignant.”
“Moriarty creates empathetic, engaging characters and situations.”
—Time Out New York
“Terrific . . . Moriarty has steady confidence . . . expertly wringing poignancy from . . . young lives. . . . A deeply satisfying novel.”
—San Diego Union Tribune
Set in Kerrville, Kansas, The Center of Everything is told by Evelyn Bucknow, an endearing character with a wholly refreshing way of looking at the world. Living with her single mother in a small apartment, Evelyn Bucknow is a young girl wincing her way through adolescence. With a voice that is as charming as it is recognizable, Evelyn immerses the reader in the dramas of an entire community. The people of Kerrville, stuck at once in the middle of nowhere but also at the center of everything, are the source from which Moriarty draws on universal dilemmas of love and belief to render a story that grows in emotional intensity until it lifts the reader to heights achieved only by the finest of fiction.
The Center of Everything
"A warm, beguiling book full of hard-won wisdom."
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times