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October 15 , 2008

An Ocean in Iowa


A funny, bittersweet exploration of how a child can change in one short year of love, loss, and growing up…

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Seven-year-old Scotty Ocean decides that seven is going to be “his year.” But soon after his birthday, his artist-turned-alcoholic mother abandons the family—leaving Scotty and his two older sisters alone with their father. As his perfect year is torn apart (falls apart?), Scotty begins to act out during school and takes a series of increasingly wild actions to try to win his mother back—and, when that doesn’t work, to replace her.

Funny and deeply affecting, An Ocean in Iowa traces Scotty’s desperate attempt to hold on to his childhood while the foundation of his family disintegrates. As Scotty’s year as a seven-year-old flies by—and the dreaded eight approaches—Hedges explores how Scotty sheds his childhood in a one-eighty of the year he hoped would be so perfect. Beautifully written, and with Hedges’s careful attention to period detail, this compelling coming-of-age novel sets the private turmoil of a disintegrating family against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the turbulent 1960s.

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