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Casebook: A novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2014
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Description
From the acclaimed and award-winning author of Anywhere But Here and My Hollywood, a powerful new novel about a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family. What he discovers turns out to be what he least wants to know: the inner workings of his parents’ lives. And even then he can’t stop searching.

Miles Adler-Hart starts eavesdropping to find out what his mother is planning for his life. When he learns instead that his parents are separating, his investigation deepens, and he enlists his best friend, Hector, to help. Both boys are in thrall to Miles’s unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is “pretty for a mathematician.” They rifle through her dresser drawers, bug her telephone lines, and strip-mine her computer, only to find that all clues lead them to her bedroom, and put them on the trail of a mysterious stranger from Washington, D.C.

Their amateur detective work starts innocently but quickly takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family’s well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil and concoct modes of revenge on their villains that are both hilarious and naïve. Eventually, haltingly, they learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.

Casebook brilliantly reveals an American family both coming apart at the seams and, simultaneously, miraculously reconstituting itself to sustain its members through their ultimate trial. Mona Simpson, once again, demonstrates her stunning mastery, giving us a boy hero for our times whose story remains with us long after the novel is over.


This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/15/2014
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385351423
ASIN:
B00G1J1C92
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Mona Simpson. (2014). Casebook: A novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Mona Simpson. 2014. Casebook: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Mona Simpson, Casebook: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Mona Simpson. Casebook: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Mona Simpson is the author of Anywhere But Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road, and My Hollywood. Off Keck Road was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the Heartland Prize fromof the Chicago Tribune. She has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim grant, a Lila Wallace–-Reader's Digest Writers’' Award, and, recently, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Simpson is on the faculty at UCLA and also teaches at Bard College.
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title
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fullDescription
From the acclaimed and award-winning author of Anywhere But Here and My Hollywood, a powerful new novel about a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family. What he discovers turns out to be what he least wants to know: the inner workings of his parents’ lives. And even then he can’t stop searching.

Miles Adler-Hart starts eavesdropping to find out what his mother is planning for his life. When he learns instead that his parents are separating, his investigation deepens, and he enlists his best friend, Hector, to help. Both boys are in thrall to Miles’s unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is “pretty for a mathematician.” They rifle through her dresser drawers, bug her telephone lines, and strip-mine her computer, only to find that all clues lead them to her bedroom, and put them on the trail of a mysterious stranger from Washington, D.C.

Their amateur detective work starts innocently but quickly takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family’s well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil and concoct modes of revenge on their villains that are both hilarious and naïve. Eventually, haltingly, they learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.

Casebook brilliantly reveals an American family both coming apart at the seams and, simultaneously, miraculously reconstituting itself to sustain its members through their ultimate trial. Mona Simpson, once again, demonstrates her stunning mastery, giving us a boy hero for our times whose story remains with us long after the novel is over.


This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Julia Keller, NPR
      • content: "Singular and haunting . . . filled with the quirky and succinct descriptions for which Simpson's writing is justly celebrated . . . Her verbs are delicious. . . . It's like watching those small revolving dashes of rainbow-colored light caused by a crystal hung in a window."
      • premium: False
      • source: Josh Cook, Star/Tribune
      • content: "Casebook displays Simpson's signature impressionism. Think Seurat's pointillist dots rather than Van Gogh's lavish strokes. Miles's world is made of tiny scenes, images, anecdotes--collage-like but easy to follow. Fans of Simpson's My Hollywood will appreciate the thematic kinship, comedy, aphoristic observations and the unflinching look at the effects of divorce. Casebook tackles heavy themes, but with a touch lighter than her early novels--easier to digest, charming, sure-footed and as engaging as ever."
      • premium: False
      • source: Christine Thomas, The Miami Herald
      • content: "What's most remarkable is how Simpson effortlessly snares readers inside a full, intimate world. . . . And for a few delicious days allows readers to relish the innocence of childhood and the intense yearning to discover the secrets of life."
      • premium: False
      • source: Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor
      • content: "Simpson is . . . adept at capturing the world of moneyed life in a California beach town once there is less of it and the uncertainty of children navigating the new rules of divorce. . . . Happiness, and its elusiveness is a running theme throughout the novel. Miles tries to define it, as if by pinning it down, he might be able to secure more of for his mom."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
      • content: "If Casebook were a box of cereal, there would be dozens of raisins in every spoonful. Yes, the novel itself has a satisfying arc, but I love it most for the small rewards and humorous touches that Simpson doles out on nearly every page."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
      • content: "Any person who grew up in a family being slowly torn apart by their parents' crumbling marriage will instantly relate to Miles Adler-Rich's attempt to understand why things are falling apart. Casebook will even find a way to sink its hooks into readers who haven't had to experience that."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from February 10, 2014
        Simpson’s (My Hollywood) sixth novel portrays a Santa Monica, Calif., family through the eyes of the only son, Miles Adler-Hart, a habitual eavesdropper who watches his mother, Irene, with great intensity. From an early age, Miles senses the vulnerability of his mother, a recently divorced mathematician, and throughout his childhood and adolescence feels the need to look out for her. When Irene falls in love with Eli Lee, Miles is highly suspicious. He enlists his best friend, Hector, to help him look deep into Eli’s background, going so far as to work with a private investigator. Simpson elevates this world of tree houses and walkie-talkies not only through Miles’s intelligence—“‘Hope for happiness is happiness,’” he tells Hector—but through the startling revelations he uncovers. Simpson tastefully crafts her story in a world of privilege, with private school, show business jobs, and housekeepers all present, but never prevalent details. More remarkable is Simpson’s knowledge of her characters, which is articulated through subtle detail: we are not surprised by the flea market blackboard in the kitchen, nor by the preachy quotation Irene chooses to write on it. Ultimately, this is a story about a son’s love for his mother, and Simpson’s portrayal of utter loyalty is infectious. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 1, 2014
        A child of divorce turns private eye in the latest well-observed study of domestic dysfunction from Simpson (My Hollywood, 2010, etc.). In some ways, Simpson's sixth novel marks a return to her first, Anywhere But Here (1986), which also features a teenage narrator struggling to comprehend a parental split. But the new book is more high concept, framed as a detective story about discovering the deceptions that can swirl around relationships. The narrator, Miles, is a bright LA high schooler who's prone to precocious antics like a money-making scheme selling lunches out of his locker. He's also picked up a more questionable eavesdropping habit, listening in on his mathematician mother's phone conversations after her marriage collapses and she pursues a new relationship with Eli, whose intentions and background strike Miles as questionable. With his friend Hector, he processes his confusion both artistically (via a comic book they create together) and pragmatically, befriending a PI who helps them get to the bottom of Eli's background. The setup is ingenious on a couple of fronts. First, making the tale a mystery adds a dose of drama to what's otherwise a stock plot about upper-middle-class divorce. Second, Miles' snapping to the role of secret eavesdropper and researcher underscores how alienated he is from his mother's confusion and heartbreak. Simpson presents Miles' tale as slightly comic; this is a story of teenage misadventures, after all. But as the truth about Eli emerges and Miles gets wise to reality, she shifts into a more serious register. "Everyone had secrets, I understood, now that I did," Miles explains. "With that one revelation, the world multiplied." Simpson's attempts to add a metafictional touch via Hector's footnote comments feel half-finished, but overall her command of the story is rock-solid. A clever twist on a shopworn theme by a top-shelf novelist.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from March 1, 2014
        Simpson's latest ensnaring, witty, and perceptive novel of family life under pressure in Los Angeles mines the same terrain as her much-lauded last novel, the immigrant-nanny-focused My Hollywood (2010). Here she puts a clever spin on domestic surveillance as young Miles begins spying on his mother, Irene, a mathematician, just as fault lines begin to appear in her marriage to his father, a Hollywood lawyer. Wily Miles, the overweight older brother of twin sisters he professes to loathe yet watches over tenderly, sets up phone taps of increasing sophistication, opens e-mail, eavesdrops, and paws through drawers, aided and abetted by his friend Hector, who is highly suspicious, and rightfully so, of Eli, post-separation Irene's increasingly enigmatic and elusive lover. As they muddle through middle school and high school, Miles and Hector become an adolescent American variation on Holmes and Watson, with the help of a kind, handsome private eye, Ben Orion. They also embark on a crazy entrepreneurial scheme involving troublesome pets. Simpson's opening gambit is a Note to Customer from the publisher of Two Sleuths, the best-selling comic created by Miles and Hector, but she wisely uses this framing device lightly, allowing this exceptionally incisive, fine-tuned, and charming novel to unfold gracefully as she brings fresh understanding and keen humor to the complexities intrinsic to each stage of life and love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Simpson is a great literary favorite, and this winning novel will be supported by a cross-country author tour and plenty of publicity.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 15, 2014

        Miles Adler prides himself on being a snoop, but after wiring a secret phone extension under the master bed, he overhears a conversation between his parents that turns his stomach. His perfect folks are soon to become a divorce statistic, and if Miles is to stay apprised of the situation, he has no choice but to continue spying. Monitoring his mom's emails is easy; keeping his overactive imagination in check is not, especially with best friend Hector goading him on. When Eli Lee starts dating mom and promising the moon, she's like a new woman, but even after five years Eli is suspiciously unable to commit. Miles and Hector won't rest until they suss out the truth about Eli, and issues of trust and perception are raised as the boys compile damning evidence against him. Readers will fall in love with Miles as he grows into manhood: from a precocious nine-year-old to a tender big brother to twin sisters to a chubby, angst-filled teen. VERDICT In this sensitively rendered bildungsroman, Simpson (My Hollywood) recalls authentic, detailed memories of childhood in writing this clever, insightful, and at times hilarious story about family, friendship, and love in all its complex iterations. A great choice for teens and adults to read together and discuss. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]--Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2013

        Having won honors ranging from a Whiting Writer's Award to an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts, the beloved Simpson shows up with a young protagonist named Miles Adler-Rich, who's compelled by the recent separation of his parents to spy on them with the help of friend Hector. The boys are particularly intrigued by Miles's mother ("pretty for a mathematician"), rifling through her diary and dresser drawers and finding evidence that puts them on the trail of a mysterious stranger. The scary secrets they learn give the boys their first real lesson in good and evil.

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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From the acclaimed and award-winning author of Anywhere But Here and My Hollywood, a powerful new novel about a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family. What he discovers turns out to be what he least wants to know: the inner workings of his parents’ lives. And even then he can’t stop searching.

Miles Adler-Hart starts eavesdropping to find out what his mother is planning for his life. When he learns instead that his parents are separating, his investigation deepens, and he enlists his best friend, Hector, to help. Both boys are in thrall to Miles’s unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is “pretty for a mathematician.” They rifle through her dresser drawers, bug her telephone lines, and strip-mine her computer, only to find that all clues lead them to her bedroom, and put them on the trail of a mysterious stranger from Washington, D.C.

Their amateur detective work starts innocently but quickly...
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group