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One Heart

About the Book

One Heart

I make my little friends up here at camp and school, but I'm drawn to the cheerful. Life is short and I'm not here for the gloom. I been a good sister to Gladys, and that's enough gloom for any one soul, and I don't say that to blame her, and it's not like we haven't had some laughs even in the darkest of dark years. But Gladys had a hard life. I say had not because she's dead. I say had because I think it's changed now. --Ivy 

A small wind bent the flames. I peered over at Raelene's firelit face, which looked young, dangerously young. Needy. I rowed back inside myself all the way for a clear moment. I could row myself back inside like I was a cave. A cave with ice on the walls, nice and dark. I could see the world and anyone in it standing at the cave's mouth, framed and manageable. I had to do this right away with Raelene. Because I see now that she scared me . . . Raelene dragged me out of my cave. Mad at her for even showing up. I wished she'd go back to where she came from . . . Of course, once you're out of the cave, you're out. You're rearranged. Bigger. So if you try going back in the cave, the fits no longer quite right. --Gladys 

Gladys and Ivy are sisters and reluctant best friends. For the past ten years they've cooked side by side in the kitchen at Camp Timber and Timber winter school in a quiet, rural town in upstate New York. On the outside both women are similar-middle-aged, generously built, plainly dressed. Sadly, Gladys' lifetime has been marked by grief, including a divorce and the immeasurable loss of both of her children. While Ivy has been there with her through all of it, wanting to console and help, Gladys has been too frozen inside her grief to accept her sister's offering. 

Then one April day, seventeen-year-old Raelene appears at the screen door of the sisters' house. A mysterious character, "with her long hair and pale face walking through the closed-up town on a bitter evening in her Salvation Army black coat," Raelene ultimately helps free Gladys to take a long denied emotional journey. While Raelene and Gladys travel across the country on a Greyhound bus, Ivy is left behind to grapple with her sister's absence and an inner life long ignored. Then, shortly after Gladys' departure, an unexpected visitor arrives on her doorstep-Gladys' estranged husband, James-further challenging Ivy's own quiet existence and driving a wedge between the sisters. 

The sisters' temporary parting of ways allows both Gladys and Ivy to face truths about themselves and their lives that their well ordered co-existence helped keep at bay. In the end, they arrive at a new and transformed understanding of their relationship-and of their own lives.

One Heart
by Jane McCafferty

  • Publication Date: August 22, 2000
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0061097578
  • ISBN-13: 9780061097577