Caroline Leavitt 2016


Reviews of Girls In Trouble



"Both a page-turner and also a canny portrait of the trouble perfectly ordinary people can get into while trying to satisfy their perfectly ordinary needs for love and security and happiness. It is no small accomplishment to portray the lives of decent people and their poor choices in such a way that we continue to care about what happens to them. The pleasure of this novel comes from Leavitt's wisdom about the deep chasm of misfortune, her exploration of misfortune's steep slope and her recognition that climbing out of misfortune's pit, step by arduous step, requires a heroism that literature, with its capacity for rendering the elevated quality of ordinary experience, can portray so beautifully. The characters are blazingly knowable, and it is Leavitt's sympathy that gives her novel both its page-turning momentum and its dignity"
Carrie Brown, The Washington Post Book World 
reprinted in The Chicago Sun-Times


"A complex, moving drama. Unpicks a legacy of tangled emotions and considers what motherhood really means."
The London Mail


"Heartfelt, poignant."
Marta Salij, Free Press/Magic 105.1 Book Club Selection


"Leavitt allows her novel to take grand shape, confronting head on the sometimes maddening twists and turns life can take and the joys and sadness our choices can bring us."
Pages Magazine, Pages Recommends 


"Provocative and poignant. For bookclub junkies, some challenging themes to be debated."
Chicago Sun-Times


" Wise and honest. Original and new. Leavitt has a reputation for writing real-life issue books. But here she does more than present an issue:these characters suffer and triumph with difficulty and complexity. Engrossing."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


"Poignant. Leavitt examines a touchy topic with compassion, understanding and grace."
The Orlando Sentinel


"Leavitt has a sharp ear for dialogue and descriptive details. As the characters all try to come to terms with the rich emotional cauldron of their lives, the feelings they spark are familiar and resonant. "Girls in Trouble" deftly and poignantly charts the slow erosion of familial ties and the lengths to which love and desperation can drive us all."
The Boston Globe


"A novel rich with realistic characters, Leavitt creates a complicated tangle of reasonable emotions. She offers readers an inside look at the struggles of each central character and honestly details the complexity of needs and wants influenced by human consciences cloudy with love and desperation."
Small Spiral Notebook


"Stark and sure. Family dynamics are sharply observed, with an ear for nuance and an eye for telling detail. Leavitt weaves a richly textured tapestry from the stuff of daily life and ensnares us in its reality. The result can be wrenchingly poignant."
The Raleigh News & Observer


"Emotionally wise novel that will keep you glued to the page."
Good Books


"Compelling. Leavitt's novel is a likable, flowing explication of the complex relationship between mother and child, a bond that cannot be controlled or erased by anyone."
The Chicago Tribune


"The strengths of "Girls In Trouble" lie in the questions it raises about complicated love, both family and romantic."
The San Francisco Chronicle


"A moving, suspenseful novel about the emotional cost of open adoption, Caroline Leavitt's novel "Girls In Trouble" is written with insights of domestic honesty that bring to mind Anne Tyler. Leavitt does a remarkable job of creating characters so complex that readers will understand everyone's actions, and hate to say goodbye when the novel reaches its realistic and satisfying conclusion."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer


"Leavitt's compassionate writing really gets us inside her characters' heads. She's exquisite in her descriptions of the teenaged Anne's inner war over mixed feelings and loyalties between her two mothers. Engrossing and deeply honest."
Alphonse Vinh, NPR "Musings"


"Girls In Trouble" is that rare combination of a literary character study and a bonafide page turner. One of the title girls is Sara Rothman, a Harvard-bound 16-year-old who falls in love, gets knocked up and finds her life going crazily off course. One adoption later, she wants her baby back, and all hell breaks loose. If it sounds easy and cliched, it isn't. Think of Russell Bank's ordinary people in trouble, and you'll get an idea of Leavitt's--except of course from her own female perspective.
The Boston Phoenix, Editor's Pick


"A piercing spin on the theme of Romeo and Juliet. Leavitt makes this story refreshingly new. There are no villains here, just believable people trying to make the best of a difficult situation and - children and adults alike - growing up and growing wiser."
Carole Goldberg, The Hartford Courant


"Two paragraphs into the story, the reader is already in for a memorable ride. When a story about the longing of first love and its sometimes unfortunate results gets rave reviews from such a disparate group of readers it gets my attention. Glamour magazine tells its readers Leavitt will "Get your book groups talking." The Library Journal calls it a wonderful story and advises public libraries to get a bunch of extra copies. Margot Livesey says it is "engrossing and richly satisfying." 
The Knoxville News Sentinel


"The sense that real life is being played out in front of our eyes among people we care about makes Leavitt's work as gripping and suspenseful as any thriller. You don't so much read about Leavitt's characters as live with them for a little while.Best of all, truth seems to be Leavitt's only agenda. "
David Forsmark, The Flint Journal


"Leavitt's rich descriptions and poignantly realistic dialogue allow readers to connect with each character on a personal level. Capitvating and uplifting, a must-read for anyone who has felt the joys and pains of parenthood."
The Tulsa World

"The narrative is beautifully rendered, making for a compulsively readable novel." 
The Albuquerque Journal


"Draws the reader into the drama."
The Philadelphia Inquirer 


"Richly detailed and brilliantly controlling, holding the reader hostage to its passions. "
Lauren Roberts, South Coast Beacon


"Leavitt displays her considerable talents for insight into the human heart. Clear, crystalline style..we are in the presence of a writer who values words."
Jeff Minick, Smoky Mountain News


"Likable and human. The book and the characters stayed with me."
The Modesto Bee


"In this wrenching exploration of parent-child relationships, Leavitt captures the tensions and rhythms of family attachments--the unspoken language, the simmering resentments and sweet hopes, the blinding, protective love that can both damage and heal. Ripe for movie adaptation."


3 1/2 stars out of a possible 4--Bookmarks Magazine

"Leavitt's heroine was pregnant at sixteen, and so was I. How did she get my experience so exactly right? She could have been interviewing me. This is the book that made me not only want to talk about what happened to me, but to claim it."
Suzanne Beecher, Working Mother Magazine and book club


"Given the hot topic of this novel--open adoptions gone wrong, you'd expect a finger-pointing, too PC-tone. But Leavitt's surprising take will get your book group really talking." 
Glamour Magazine


"The author does a splendid job at capturing the perspective of each person involved, including the birth parents, adoptive parents, birth grandparents, and the young girl who was adopted. Caroline Leavitt (author of Coming Back to Me) has definitely brought her “A” game to the table with her crisp and intriguing writing style. Captivating."
Midwest Book Review


"The story was so engrossing that I had trouble putting it down. High recommended to fans of literary and contemporary fiction, and also a wonderful book club read."


"A profoundly moving novel about teenage motherhood, first love and the emotional consequences of open adoption, this is a must-read for all fans of Sue Miller or Maggie O’Farrel."
Top ten selection, The Mango Book Club, UK


"Characters so full and vividly realized, that they practically walk off the pages. Leavitt is a microsurgeon of the choices we make that determine our lives' path. A novel that is as compulsively readable as a can of Pringles is snackable --- but unlike the Pringles, filled with substance."
Bethanne Kelly Patrick, Bookreporter


"Leavitt grabs the gnarled complexities of adoption and wrenches out a gut-gripping tale of a parental love triangle gone bad. A complex story from a writer with a big heart."
David Abrams, Culture Dose and January Magazine


"Packs a wallop.With heartfelt , but unembellished prose, Leavitt creates realistic, memorable characters without villains or heroes. High recommended."
Four stars, The Romance Reader


"Rare is the story that makes you feel for everyone, understand each point of view, and not really be sure who are the heroes or villains. Should parents who try to stop their children from ruining their young lives be allowed to deceive? Should adoptive parents who are given the gift of a child be allowed to renege on promises made to a birth mother? Do you ever truly get over your first love? Can people make tragic mistakes and still be forgiven? Girls In Trouble is a thought provoking, heart wrenching story that is frighteningly real. Nice people, nice town, nice lives. It could be about your next door neighbor; it could be about you. "


"Touching and compassionate. A wonderful read."
The Book Review Cafe


"Emotionally charged story about first love, resentment, self discovery, family and forgiveness. Deeply touching, honest and memorable."
The Celebrity Cafe


"A marvelous study of who we are and how we hope we could be. Touches the pulse that lets us know we're alive." 
The Compulsive Reader


"Beautifully written. A modern day parable. If a book is to be judged on whether it makes the reader think and by whether it expands the reader's understanding of people and society, then this book is a winner. Highly recommended."
Mostly Fiction


"In this pull-at-your-heart novel, Leavitt once again proves how adept she is at creating fully fleshed characters. This is a wonderful story of family relationships, the choices we make, and whom we can count on."
Library Journal


"Poignantly depicts the consequences. An unflinching depiction of maternal need and the dynamis of adoption, this tale is a sharp reminder of the importance of honesty in life decisions."
Publisher's Weekly


"Emotionally introspective and thought-provoking. An eye-opening and heart-wrenching tale of profound loss and rebirth. Readers will become completely immersed in this emotion-filled novel."
Sheri Melnick, Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine, 4 1/2 stars


"I must recommend it for the story, the emotional ride, the anger, the despair, and the dreamlike quality of Sara's existence. I promise that you will be spellbound from the moment you open it." 
Story Circle


"Kept me pinned to the page, swept along in an intense, emotional journey with characters so real they seemed like friends. A beautifully written, moving and very wise book."
Kate Grenville, Orange Prize Winner for her novel, The Idea Of Perfection.


"What makes Caroline Leavitt's work so remarkable is her ability to conjure a whole range of disparate and difficult characters onto the page and to make us care deeply about each and all of them. "Girls In Trouble" is both utterly engrossing and richly satisfying"
Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves The Furniture


"Heartfelt, filled with humanity, this story about the different forms of family bonds is a joy to read."
Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isobelle


"A page-turner with rare emotional accuracy and tender fairness to its constellation of characters. A generous and poignant novel." 
Joan Silber, author of Lucky Us


"In this astonishing novel we get as close to the hearts of Leavitt's characters as it's possible to get, but are given, too, the dimensions of the epic--lifetimes of affection and error, passion and penance, and we see what a true tapestry is made from a single act of love. Although much of the novel concerns grief, there is a radiant joy that shines through it as we experience the ways in which devotion paves a path through loss. Leavitt has created a world, and a novel as rich and complex as it is meticulous in simple and resonant detail."
Laura Kasischke,author of The Life Behind Her Eyes


"Sara Rothman could be anybody's daughter, but her frank, warm, wise, gripping story, "Girls In Trouble" could only be Caroline Leavitt's."
Abby Frucht, author of Polly's Ghost and Life Before Death


"As hope-filled as a summer sky. Among Leavitt's best!"
Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Bad Girl Creek and Goodbye, Earl


"A complex, multilayered, unsentimental tale of greed, selfishness, compassion, confusion, rejection, terror and absolute, over-whelming love. I loved this beautiful book, and the key it offers us, opening up the secrets of how families really work.
Carolyn See, author of Making A Literary Life:Advice For Writers And Other Dreamers


"A touching heartfelt story showing that love can be a tangled journey."
Sandra Benitez, author of A Place Where The Sea Remembers


"The beauty of Leavitt's writing is in her flawless depiction of our human flaws. We ache for Sara, whose 
youthful decision will color the rest of her life. A poignant story of family, love, of what we lose, and sometimes, what we find again."
Gail Tsukiyama, author of Dreaming Water


"Leavitt's writing is so fluid, her characters so well realized, I found myself reading nearly until the sun came up. When I was finished, I felt as though I had made a new friend, and had stayed up all night listening to her stories."
Pam Houston, author of A Little More About Me and Cowboys Are My Weakness


"This interesting book explores the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and pitfalls of open adoption. When 16-year-old, pregnant Sara decides on an open adoption with George and Eva, the situation is a painful one, and the reader will empathize with each point of view. The characters are well developed and likable, and the story is compelling." 
Linda Vinstra, Great Northern Bookstore, Oscoda, MI