Adult Onset

Adult Onset

A Novel

Book - 2014
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"Mary Rose MacKinnon--nicknamed MR or "Mister"--is a successful YA author who has made enough from her writing to semi-retire in her early 40s. She lives in a comfortable Toronto neighbourhood with her partner, Hilary, a busy theatre director, and their 2 young children, Matthew and Maggie, trying valiantly and often hilariously to balance her creative pursuits with domestic demands, and the various challenges that (mostly) solo parenting presents"
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2014.
ISBN: 9780345808271
Characteristics: 384 p.


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Feb 17, 2018

I am two thirds through the book and find myself slogging flipping though pages. The history of her mom's troublesome births is repetitive and could have been delivered in a much smaller novel. The novel reads more like a journal rather than a work of fiction. Mary Rose's children are depicted realistically and you can't help but feel that they will be negatively affected by her insecurities. The story within the story about Kitty is not compelling. I will probably finish the book, but only because I've come this far... Do not recommend.

Mar 26, 2017

I love A-M MacDonald’s writing style which humorously balances tragedy and daily routine, and evokes so much of the protagonist’s world in a phrase …“a scintillating sort of pain like a vampire wakened at noon”. Not a simile that would have occurred to me, but it elaborates greatly on the character’s life. The story itself explores the mind’s split between the past and the present. Many times exist concurrently, with the protagonist’s emotional flashbacks to previous traumas and her fear of continuing it forward with her own children. There's plenty about the muddle of family and memories and self-discovery. I appreciated her look at life through both ends of the telescope …“you can’t know when you’re twenty-three which friends will be there for the duration”.

Jan 29, 2017

Every once in a while I slog through a book, despite the fact that I'm not enjoying it, either because it was recommended by someone I respect or there is a glimmer of promise somewhere in the text. This was one of those books that paid off in the last few chapters.

Initially, the voice frustrated me and the content rubbed a little too close to the bone. After surviving parenting my children through their challenging years, it was painful to listen to another mother struggle through her day, equally monotonous and filled with fits of fury. The author's voice was a bombastic shock to my nervous system. And yet there enough regular spots of humor that caught me off-guard to keep me listening.

It wasn't until the end that I finally understood why the book came to me so highly recommended (I need to have words with that friend, pronto). Suffice it to say that the story redeemed itself and offered just the right amount of insight into this hamster wheel we tread as adults.

VaughanPLKasey Nov 09, 2016

Acclaimed Canadian author and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald’s most recent novel closely resembles her own life, as it follows Mary-Rose MacKinnon through a couple of days in her life.

An unrelenting look into the day-to-day - and moment-to-moment - struggles of living with depression and anxiety: Mary-Rose’s seemingly idyllic middle class urban existence, taking care of her two young children, along with her theatre director wife, is a regularly harrowing experience as she battles with her inner demons and does her best to remain afloat and on top of her family’s needs.

May 12, 2016

I liked reading about Mary Rose's experiences as a queer parent, and I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to her imposter syndrome-y feelings of not measuring up to other parents. I also loved the distinctive Toronto setting.

That being said, I found that the story took a long time to get started, and that it was practically over by the time I understood what kind of payoff to expect. Also, some parts were quite hard to read due to the subject matter.

WVMLlibrarianCathy Nov 02, 2015

Another beautifully written & powerful novel from Ann-Marie MacDonald. It explores the psychology of modern day parenting & confronting the demons of one's own childhood. An emotionally draining but satisfying book.

Sep 24, 2015


May 10, 2015

I rarely fail to finish a book, but this one was still wanting and wandering half way through, and flipping forward (again which I don't normally do) saw more of the same. Enjoyed her other offerings.

brianreynolds Apr 09, 2015

It's badly understated to say Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies are hard acts to follow so I wasn't surprised when midway through MacDonald's Adult Onset I was liking but not loving the journey. Nor was I surprised that by the end I was haunted—that by some strange unscientific process she had written a personal and powerful message directly to me, to my self as a parent, to my self as a child—messages too personal to talk about here. But I think, besides creating interesting characters and an interesting story (which ought to be enough for any author in my opinion) her juuxtaposition of modern, connected, helicopetering, Montisorri parents with the post-depression, spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child variety illuminates very similar frustrations and anxieties in rearing young human beings. A medical doctor once counselled me that expressing anger was both normal and healthy for both the parent and child. That may be true, but MacDonald's brilliant story is a beautifully told parable of guilt and fear—regardless of the generation or whether it's healthy or not. A must read...

Apr 01, 2015

I was rather torn as to the rating I was going to give this book. On one hand it's a very well written story, it's compelling and it draws you in to lives of the characters. On the other, I didn't feel empathy for them or really understand (on a personal level, not an intellectual one) what was going on.
At many points in the book I thought Mary Rose should just get on with life, to stop the denial and move toward a solution. And then I'd think that she was and that was the whole point of the story, though she still annoyed me.
I always find that stories about motherhood, either the want of or the hardships of or the love of, is completely lost on me. I have no context in my own life for any of that and I lose the emotion that books are trying to convey about such subjects and I think miss much of the potential of such stories.
So, I compromised on the rating. A 4 for the writing and being able to create such an engaging story and a 2 for the actual storyline make it a 3.

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