Winner of The S. Mariela Gable Award from Graywolf Press (2001)
Silver Forward Fiction Award.
L.A Times Best Book
Borders Original Voice Selection
Adapted for a feature length film directed by Kevin Bacon, premiered at Sundance Film Festival
What happens if a mother loves her child too much? Sybil and Marty, indifferent to their daughter in life, left her a small fortune and the cryptic advice, “It would do well to find a passion.” In Victoria Redel's utterly mesmerizing new novel, we listen to the voice of this daughter as she willfully sets out to become a mother—who is nothing if not passionate.
She has named her son Paul, but calls him “Birdie,” “Cookie,” “Puppy,” “Loverboy,” as she creates a wonderful, magical world for two, a world filled with books, music, endless games, and bottomless devotion. “Has ever a mother loved a child more?” she wonders as they play spy on the strangers from behind their heavy, lace curtains. But as life outside begins to beckon to the boy, the mother's efforts to keep their small world confined become increasingly frantic and ultimately tragic.
In this exquisite debut novel, Victoria Redel takes us deep into the mind of a very singular mother, and yet through her we see the dangerously whisper-thin line between selfless and selfish motivation that exists in all devotion. After all, “Who has ever wanted to share a love?”
“A first novel that explores a mother’s obsession; in prose at once lyrical and chillingly realistic, it catches the reader up in a tightening circle of the fleeting delights and accumulating dangers of her misguided intimacy.”
“Cryptic… authoritative and vast—full of suspense, emotional urgency, and shimmering imagery… A nightmare tale of mother-love strong enough to swallow a child whole.”
“Redel is one of the most talented scary writers to come out of musty old Manhattan in the last few decades.”
—LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW
“A spare and stunning debut whose lean, episodic style seems perfectly adapted to its subject matter… Perfect.”
—SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“A controlled and convincing tale of a mother’s obsession for her child… Painting a convincing portrait of her complex and surprising sympathetic narrator, Redel makes it possible to empathize with the woman’s overwhelming love for her son: the novel succeeds because the reader cannot condemn her.”
“Fascinating and disconcerting; you’ll find yourself simultaneously empathizing with this mother’s love for her son and being horrified by her obsession with keeping him all to herself.”
“Redel writes like an angel about the darkest edge of obsession. This debut is simply excellent. Highly recommended.”
“Loverboy is stunningly fine… More Redel, please, and soon.”
—MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
“Redel brings a fresh, new voice to the world of fiction and peoples it with haunting characters.”
“This novel dares to look into the darkest corners of a mother’s heart and at the detrimental shadows cast by all-encompassing maternal love.”
“Loverboy is a novel of extremes, and Redel is to be applauded for her relentlessness… This is some very potent stuff.”
—REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY FICTION