Michelle Wildgen lives near New York City. Her writing appeared in Best American Food Writing 2004 and Best New American Voices 2004.
Wildgen's first novel centers on Bec, a self-absorbed college student drifting through school and an affair with a married poetry professor, and it shows real promise. When Bec takes a summer job caring for Kate, a young married woman with Lou Gehrig's disease, it seems easy to spot the formula: lost soul comes of age through the wisdom and resolve of the terminally ill. Where Bec is anxious and aimless, Kate is sarcastic and at peace; despite paralysis, she teaches Bec to cook extravagant meals, fund-raises for ALS research and spouts wicked one-liners. But when Kate kicks out her cheating husband, Evan, Wildgen's writing becomes clear and determined, daring to spotlight an almost taboo subject-the need for sex among the sick. As Bec takes on more of Evan's roles, eventually moving into Kate's house, Bec's deep and conflicted feelings for her charge allow Wildgen to navigate the complicated moral territory of Evan's, or any young spouse's, responsibility to his terminally ill partner. The brash tone that weighs down the beginning of the novel becomes more credible and critical as Bec subsumes the powerful voice of her near-voiceless charge. Wildgen's debut showcases the talent that won her inclusion in Best New American Voices 2004, and should take her further still. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Bec isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She hates her major, advertising, and is having an affair with a married college professor that's exciting but obviously can't last. Looking through the want ads for a summer job, she finds a notice about a couple needing a caregiver. Kate is a wealthy woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). Her husband, Evan, trains Bec to take care of Kate-giving her a bath, lifting her, feeding her through a feeding tube, and more. At first, Bec is nervous, but slowly she becomes an intricate and seasoned part of Kate's life. Kate in turn teaches Bec how to cook and helps her uncover emotional skills she didn't know she had. Wildgen's first novel is an intriguing look at caregiving and the emotional risks and rewards that each person takes and receives. With the help of the well-developed and believable characters, readers become immersed in the story, which makes for a very satisfying read. Recommended for most public libraries, especially where there is an interest in first novels.-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Michelle Wildgen writes with a fresh, appealing honesty and has done a marvelous job of capturing that youthful moment in our lives when we are like sponges ready to soak up someone else's character, taste, and charm." --Francine Prose, People (four stars, Critic's Choice)"A complex and satisfying dish: a story of intimate strangers and their impact on each other's lives." --O, The Oprah Magazine"A fresh, accomplished first novel . . . tackles challenging material with honesty and a clear eye." --Kirkus Reviews"A deeply sensual book." --The Believer"Wildgen's debut showcases the talent that won her inclusion in Best New American Voices 2004, and should take her further still." --Publishers Weekly