Geneva Jordan, a successful stage actress in New York, reluctantly agrees to stay for a month with her thirteen-year-old nephew who has Down syndrome so that his parents can take a long-postponed and much-needed vacation. She is unmarried and has no children herself, has always found herself a little intimidated about close interaction with the boy, and leads a complicated personal and professional life in New York which the requisite month in Minnesota will interrupt.

Nevertheless, she takes on the job and gradually finds herself adapting to rural life, substitute parenthood, and the special needs of her nephew. She makes friends with the mother of Rich's best (and only real) friend, Conrad, who has cerebral palsy. After the month is over, she returns to New York, only to realize that her life lacks a dimension that caregiving gave it.

She also realizes she left a good man behind in Minnesota--a local divorced father who has become an unsought love interest. Nevertheless, she remains on stage and in the city until the death of her nephew's friend calls her back to Minnesota, and to the man with whom she can finally imagine taking on a family life of her own.


This popular novel is lively, funny, and thoughtful in its treatment of family life, hard choices, and the difficulties of loving. As the story begins, it appears to offer mainly a fairly light portrait of a self-confessedly self-indulgent prima donna who is mostly interested in herself and her career. However, when she deliberates about and finally takes on her caregiving assignment, the character acquires much more dimension, and the plot more complexity.

The character of the child with Down syndrome is very well drawn, the incidents both entertaining (the book maintains a gently comic tone in many scenes) and instructive for readers unfamiliar with the condition. A useful and enjoyable read for anyone regularly in contact with a young person with Down syndrome.



Place Published

New York



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