All Things Must Pass
by Phyllis Zimmerman
Publish America

"Spring made Leslie feel sad rather than lighthearted. The season now reminded her of a breezy April afternoon the year before when she came home from school and learned her mother was dead."

Zimmerman's debut novel charts the tumultuous and heart rending coming-of-age of its adolescent female protagonist, Leslie Andrews. Andrews, a young girl all too familiar with the harsh realities life can bring, is faced with the tragedy of her mother's suicide and its ensuing repercussions. Forced to leave her beloved childhood home for a series of transitory stays with family, friends, and strangers alike, Leslie must learn to cope with the turbulent impermanence that begins to characterize life without her mother. As the sometimes well-meaning and often callous adults in her life insist, Leslie spends what should be the happiest years of her life beset by sadness and isolation—emotions she would give anything to overcome.

Set during the 1970s, the story does a fine job of revealing gender biases common at the time, as well as the attitudes and ideals influencing family circles. Zimmerman's uncomplicated prose unravels a story and characters that are anything but uncomplicated. Pitiless, vulnerable, poignant and comical, Zimmerman delivers a story peopled with characters as conflicted and contradictory as those seen in life. And Zimmerman's convincing characters are appropriately faced with all too real struggles: mental illness, alcoholism, domestic violence, and poverty. Indeed, readers will identify with the honesty and poignancy that dominate All Things Must Pass.

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