The Gap Year
The Gap Year
By Sarah Bird
Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307592798, 320pp.
Publication Date: July 5, 2011
From the widely praised author of The Yokota Officers Club and The Flamenco Academy, a novel as hilarious as it is heartbreaking about a single mom and her seventeen-year-old daughter learning how to let go in that precarious moment before college empties the nest.
In The Gap Year, told with perfect pitch from both points of view, we meet Cam Lightsey, lactation consultant extraordinaire, a divorcée still secretly carrying a torch for the ex who dumped her, a suburban misfit who’s given up her rebel dreams so her only child can get a good education.
We also learn the secrets of Aubrey Lightsey, tired of being the dutiful, grade-grubbing band geek, ready to explode from wanting her “real” life to begin, trying to figure out love with boys weaned on Internet porn.
When Aubrey meets Tyler Moldenhauer, football idol–sex god with a dangerous past, the fuse is lit. Late-bloomer Aubrey metastasizes into Cam’s worst silent, sullen teen nightmare, a girl with zero interest in college. Worse, on the sly Aubrey’s in touch with her father, who left when she was two to join a celebrity-ridden nutball cult.
As the novel unfolds—with humor, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and penetrating insights about love in the twenty-first century—the dreams of daughter, mother, and father chart an inevitable, but perhaps not fatal, collision . . .
“A smart, witty take on one of the classic milestones of parenting . . . Full of insight, acceptance and, above all, love.”
—Sharyn Vane, Austin American-Statesman
“While pacifying us with gut-bucket humor, the wicked writer makes us think! At its big, wide-open heart, The Gap Year is about self-discovery, about finding and making your own way in the world, a process that, apparently, continues until we die.”—Steve Bennett, San Antonio Express
“Humorous and lively . . . A perceptive if lighthearted depiction of the process of separation from the points of view of a mother and daughter.” —Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
“Bird’s wit shines through on every page—she’s the kind of author readers all wish they could spend an hour kvetching with over margaritas—but she also has a real knack for eavesdropping on her characters’ inner lives.” —Joy Tipping, Dallas Morning News
“A soulful portrait of that awkward, exhilarating and bittersweet point in a mother’s relationship with her child—the time to let go.” —Roberta MacInnins, Houston Chronicle
“At times funny, at times heartbreaking, this is fine fiction at its best.” —Ann La Farge, Hudson Valley News
“The Gap Year is satire with heart . . . In this smart novel, love trumps the past and the expected future.” —Jeffrey Ann Goudie, The Kansas City Star
“Sarah Bird’s latest novel, The Gap Year, is a must-read for anyone who loves mother-daughter stories. . . . It becomes nearly impossible to put down once broiling tensions come to a nice simmer.” —Kelly Blewett, Book Page
“A compelling read [that] builds to a satisfying and surprisingly tender conclusion. The Gap Year is sure to please Bird’s fans and readers struggling with their own mother-daughter issues.”—Amy Watts, Library Journal
“Told from alternating points-of-view, Bird’s handling of the familiar parent-teen clash of wills is accomplished with memorable, memorably realistic poignancy.” —Booklist
“The Gap Year, haunting and laugh-out-loud funny, speaks to a mother’s soul. On every luminous page, I’m reminded how being a mother is like being a contortionist: we latch on even as we let go. Cam contemplates her daughter: ‘Certain and human, such a hard mix.’ This is a page-turner of a book for every mother who ever worried she wasn’t up to the hard parts—gracefully accepting the you-never-understood-me complaints our children make; rising above the condescension of smug, over-achieving mothers; accepting our own self-doubt as we measure ourselves against impossible ideals. Cam’s dilemma will feel like your dilemma from the moment you begin reading.” —Debra Monroe, award-winning author of On the Outskirts of Normal: Forging a Family Against the Grain
“Told from both Cam’s and Aubrey’s perspectives, the narrative teases out the ever-deepening mysteries of parents and children as they grow up and apart. Bird’s breezy style and spot-on observations of contemporary family life give this headlong story a fizzy energy that carries through to the unexpected conclusion.” —Publishers Weekly
"Writing so sharp, smart, funny, and addictive, it’s as if Molly Ivins had given birth to a novelist daughter." —Z.Z. Packer
“Alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, The Gap Year is a pitch-perfect portrayal of a mother and teenage daughter on the precipice of seismic change. Everyone is given full rein in this snappy, deliciously vicious, modern spin on growing up, growing old, and letting go. Bird's timing is impeccable." —Cristina Garcia