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By Anne Tyler

"A triumph."

HARPERS

Ben Joe Hawkes is a worrier. Raised by means of his mom, grandmother, and a flock of busy sisters, he is consistently felt the outsider. whilst he learns that considered one of his sisters has left her husband, he heads for domestic and again into the confusion of adolescence stories and unforseen love....

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She used to be sitting at the sofa, sipping her after-supper Tom Collins and leafing via a girls’ domestic magazine. Beside her Gram was once analyzing Carol a bankruptcy out of Winnie-the-Pooh, even if Carol wasn’t listening, and at the different aspect of the room Jenny and Tessie and the twins have been arguing over a video game of gin rummy. the opposite have been out somewhere—Susannah with the varsity phys-ed teacher and Joanne with Gary, displaying him her domestic city earlier than they went again to Kansas within the morning. yet those that have been nonetheless at domestic appeared so calm and pleased, sitting of their lamp-lit room, that Ben Joe virtually needed he might stick with them and disregard the suitcase on the entrance door. “Hey, Mom,” he acknowledged. “What is it? ” She appeared up, keeping one finger within the journal to mark her position. “Oh, Ben Joe. Why don’t you come back on in? ” “ ‘Many chuffed returns of Eeyore’s birthday,’ ” Gram used to be announcing in her vibrant, reading-aloud voice. Carol sniffed and bent all the way down to contact the bunny ears on one in all her slippers, and Gram glared at her. “I acknowledged, ‘Many chuffed returns of—’ ” “I’m going again to school,” Ben Joe stated. “ ‘Eeyore’s birthday,’ ” Gram went on, not taking a look at the publication yet simply completing the sentence instantly. “Where you assert you’re going, Ben Joe? ” “To school,” he stated. “You suggest, this night you’re going? ” “Yes’m. ” His mom folded the web page over after which closed the journal. “Well, I don’t see—” she begun. “I simply abruptly remembered this try I’ve acquired, mother. i actually need to cross. I’m going to trap that early train …” His sisters rotated from their card video game and checked out him. “Where’s your suitcase? ” Jane requested. “Out within the corridor. I simply stopped in to assert good-by. ” “Well, I may still desire so,” acknowledged his mom. “Why didn’t you let us know past? Now I don’t be aware of what to do approximately these shirts of yours which are nonetheless within the laundry—” “Don’t fear approximately it. you could ship them to me later. ” He felt awkward, simply as he knew he may, status empty-handed within the doorway with all people looking at him. His grandmother was once the 1st one to face up. She got here towards him speedily, her palms outstretched to hug him good-by, and he smiled at her and went to fulfill her midway. “If you’d in basic terms advised us, I could’ve made a few cookies,” she stated. “No, I don’t need—” “Or a minimum of a few sandwiches. you will want me to whip you up a few sandwiches, Ben Joe? ” “I haven’t acquired time,” he acknowledged. the remainder of the relatives used to be clustered round him now; Carol had her hands approximately one in all his knees as though he have been a tree she was once approximately to climb. in the back of his sisters stood his mom, along with her face now not shocked yet again to its functional, considerate expression. “I believe it’s approximately time,” she stated. “Looked as though you’d forgotten tuition. ” “We’ll force you to the station,” stated Lisa. “No, thanks, I’ve received lots of time. ” “But you simply acknowledged you didn’t have—” “No, rather. i think like strolling. Come kiss me good-by, every body. ” there has been a succession of soppy, cool cheeks laid opposed to his. His grandmother held Carol up and he or she kissed him loudly at the chin, leaving a bit rainy position that he wiped off absent-mindedly with the cuff of his sleeve.

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