Simple Lives

There are memoirs you read for the protagonist’s sheer distance from your life: the celebrity, the survivor, the sinner. You read them hungrily, voyeuristically, scrambling for experiences and sensations that you will likely never know. Then there are memoirs that take an unextraordinary life—one made up of moments that you too have known—and depict it with revelations and beauty in the telling.

How does a writer take her average life and make it interesting enough to read about? How does she tell a personal story that transcends herself? In “One-on-One,” Bridget Quinn shows us a girl longing for greatness and adventure, an ornery mother who takes these longings seriously, having given up her own dreams long ago, and a clear afternoon shared between them. In the afternoon, and in the telling of the story, dreams are fulfilled.

—Scott Cohen and Caitlin McKenna

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