A moving story about estrangement and intimacy, race and privilege, identity and belonging from the bestselling author of Before and After
Miriam Vener feels trapped in the comfortable white middle-class life she leads with her family in Houston during the 1980s. That life suddenly shatters with the appearance, after almost eighteen years, of Veronica (Ronnee), her biracial daughter born in Mississippi in the sixties when Miriam was a civil rights activist. Hot tempered, sensitive, manipulative and deeply hurt at her mother's disappearance from her life, Ronnee has been raised by her father, a formerly brilliant college professor who forbade her to see her white mother. Half a Heart charts the emotionally fraught terrain of the mother and daughter's reunion and Ronnee's divided sense of self and loyalty. With which family, and which race, does she identify? How does all this affect her relationships with her newly discovered half-sister, her white boyfriend, and the father she is rebelling against? Half a Heart is a searingly honest novel of public and private ideals betrayed and hopes reignited by one of our foremost novelists.
“Rosellen Brown is a master at portraying the tentative joy and edgy heartbreak of family relationships. Her character Miriam is one of the most human and full-bodied women I've come across in literature in years, and Veronica (Ronnee), with her foibles and defenses, one of the most complex in recent fiction. Rosellen Brown is a dream!” —Anita Shreve
“One of our most talented writers.” —Anne Tyler
“A fiercely candid novel, surely one of Brown's most challenging, intelligent and masterful accomplishments. [She] brings events to a suspenseful climax through a nightmarish situation and its shattering aftermath.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Like Jane Austen, she digs deeper and deeper into the territory she has staked out, always coming up with brilliant new jewels. In all her books, Brown explores intimate family relationships while engaging social issues. Her books are wonderful syntheses of public and private, of action and idea, plot and theme... Rosellen Brown has put her whole heart into this one, and it shows.” —Laurie Muchnick, Newsday
“Genuinely powerful.” —Laura Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review