Item description for Sunset Terrace by Rebecca Donner...
During the summer of 1983, Elaine and her daughters Hannah and Daisy move into Sunset Terrace, a squalid, low-rent apartment building in Los Angeles that houses single mothers. They have been on the road for three years, moving from town to town in a flight from tragedy ever since Hannah discovered her father dead in his study.
While Elaine struggles to make ends meet and construct a new life for herself in California, Hannah - a shy, lonely girl whose only companion in the shuffle of schools has been her pet turtle - develops an earnest affection for Bridget, a vivacious, foul-mouthed nine-year-old in apartment one who was abandoned as an infant in a supermarket parking lot. Now living with a foster family, Bridget quickly becomes Hannah's best friend, teaching her how to climb a chain-link fence and steal candy.
As the summer wears on, Elaine becomes captivated by Bridget as well, encouraging her to come over for dinner and sleepovers, taking on the role of a surrogate mother. Compelled by pity for the wayward girl, Elaine is blind to Bridget's dangerous influence on Hannah, who at the summer's end takes part in a malicious game that irrevocably alters the course of all of their lives.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8" Width: 5.2" Height: 1" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2003
ISBN 1931561346 ISBN13 9781931561341
Availability 0 units.
More About Rebecca Donner
Rebecca Donner was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and received degrees from UC Berkeley and Columbia University. She was the literary director of the Sunday Night Fiction Series at New York City's KGB Bar from 1998 to 2002, and is the editor of On The Rocks: The KGB Bar Fiction Anthology.
Reviews - What do customers think about Sunset Terrace?
... & the pursuit of happiness Apr 27, 2004
While Elaine may have life & liberty, she has rarely known happiness. Into SUNSET TERRACE she moves with her two daughters after three years on the road. 12 year old Hannah, her sister & turtle settle in for a long hot summer. Here they get to know the other families & Hannah is taken under the wing of the fiercesome Bridget, a foster child with a past & a not-so-nurturing present. She also has a daring & dangerous sense of adventure & courage.
SUNSET TERRACE could have been unrelentingly depressing, after all what's romantic about welfare moms & their damaged children? Except Rebecca Donner has infused her debut novel with an intense look into children's live as well as realistic hope in the way Elaine searches for a better life.
Rebeccasreads recommends SUNSET TERRACE as a devastating & hopeful glimpse of the pursuit of happiness.
different side of LA Jan 6, 2004
I grew up on Sawtelle in LA and was reminded of things I had forgotten while reading this book. Very evocative.
like poetry Nov 6, 2003
Forget 'The Lovely Bones.' If you want beautiful prose and a gripping narrative, Sunset Terrace is it. It's a gritty, heartbreaking, realistic portrayal of loss and redemption, told alternately from a mother's and daughter's perspectives. The author doesn't candy-coat anything. The book is almost like poetry.
Touching and insightful Jul 30, 2003
Donner does a remarkable job of putting you inside the heads of her characters, especially the 10 year old Hannah. Her ability to make Hannah's (to an adult's mind) illogical thoughts seem perfectly reasonable rises to the level of Lynda Berry, whose little-girl characters also occupy a bleak and forbidding urban landscape.
A touching and wonderful book. Donner is a marvelous storyteller.
The Fringe-Dwellers of trickle-down economics Jul 28, 2003
City streets are the playgrounds of the children who live at Sunset Terrace, and patches of dead grass, trash-strewn lots and cracked concrete bordered by battered chain link fencing. Summer days are spent stealing cigarettes and candy from the neighborhood market. These are the beneficiaries of the trickle-down policies of the '80's, living in a vast economic wasteland, families kept together by women who work at minimum wage jobs and buy groceries with food stamps.
Elaine arrives at Sunset Terrace with her two daughters, a year after their father has committed suicide. An itinerant chef, Elaine moved her girls from job to job, motel to motel, all across the country. Hannah, nine, lonely and confused by her father's death, was responsible for younger sister, Daisy, while their mother worked late shifts at various roadside restaurants. Rent-controlled Sunset Terrace, in So. California, is a step up for the small family, a new start.
Hannah wants friends, but doesn't know the rules, ever on the wrong side of belonging. Bridget, an iconoclastic nine-year-old foster-child who lives downstairs, captures Hannah's attention. Bridget is street savvy, already a victim of ... abuse, the kind of child easily dropped through bureaucratic cracks, shuffled from one place to another. While Bridget carefully courts Hannah, Elaine finds herself feeling sorry for the girl, often including Bridget in family gatherings, while unaware of the girl's dark side. Bridget's smart mouth and intimidating behavior draws Hannah like a moth to flame, the vague promise of a walk on the wild side. Hannah is unprepared for the escalating violence of their games, as Bridget is more and more mean-spirited. Eventually, Hannah grows distant, less trusting, disturbed by Bridget's demeanor.
A woman in the complex talks Elaine into attending a Parents-Without-Partners function, where Elaine meets an eligible man, Sam. For Elaine, the genial and loving Sam is unexpected, like winning the Cinderella lottery, a way out. Without him, they are trapped in an indifferent world, surrounded on all sides by poverty and social decay, their sojourn at Sunset Terrace only a respite on a downhill slide. During their last few days, Hannah and Bridget clash frequently, especially when Hannah defends her younger sister from Bridget's unnecessary meanness. Although furious, Hannah agrees to a final game, one that has unexpected and life-changing consequences for both girls.
The families of Sunset Terrace live a marginal existence, prey to unstable financial circumstances. Affordable child-care for working mothers is as realistic as the Emerald City at the end of the Yellow Brick Road. Sunset Terrace is a scathing social commentary on the disastrous effects of poverty and a system that ignores the most vulnerable in our society, sweeping them aside like so much detritus. We are not in Kansas, Dorothy. Meet the fringe-dwellers, one step away from homelessness, dancing as fast as they can. Luan Gaines/2003.