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Between Here and April

Between Here and April

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Between Here and April

3/5 (131 valoraciones)
313 página
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Nov 3, 2009


“A haunting work of ambition and dimension.”—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion

When a deep-seated memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child—shocking revelations about April's mother, Adele.

Elizabeth, now herself a mother, seeks out anyone who might help piece together the final months, days, and hours of this troubled woman's life, but the answers yield only more questions. And those questions lead back to Elizabeth's own life: her own compromised marriage, her increasing self-doubt and dissatisfaction, and finally, a fearsome reckoning with what it means to be a wife and mother.
Nov 3, 2009

Sobre el autor

Deborah Copaken Kogan is the author of Shutter-babe, the bestselling memoir of her years as a war photographer. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Paris Match, Newsweek, Time, Elle, L'Express, and PHOTO, and on The Today Show, ABC News, Dateline NBC, and CNN. She lives in New York with her husband and three children.

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Between Here and April - Deborah Copaken Kogan



APRIL CASSIDY WAS my best friend from the first day of first grade in September of 1972, until a couple of months later, when she failed to show up for school. During the weeks following her disappearance, as leaf-littered lawns succumbed to snow, and eighteen and a half minutes of White House chatter were lost into the ether, I rubbed a pink eraser over the memory of my friend and wiped the loose leaf clean. So clean, it took thirty-five years and a production of Medea to unleash her. And when she emerged, thus began my descent.

Where are we? Mark whispered, too loudly, as he slipped into the seat next to mine twelve minutes after curtain.

Corinth, I said.

He took off his coat and stole a peek at his BlackBerry. No, I meant who’s he and why’s she yelling?

Mark had bought us the tickets to see Medea, to get us out of the apartment and away from the kids. Maybe, he’d joked, we’d even hold hands. But he’d been held up late at his office again, though we’d planned to meet for dinner before the show.

That’s Jason, I whispered. And she’s yelling at him because she’s angry.

Sounds familiar, said Mark. What’d he do?

Broke his promises. I wrapped the wool coat I’d draped over my chair around my shoulders. I was feeling slightly feverish, chilled. Tess had been sick with the flu, and I’d been up with her every night, pouring sticky, pink cupfuls of Motrin down her throat, which she would then throw up into my lap while I held a cold washcloth to her forehead to bring down her temperature. I’d suggested to Mark that maybe we should sell our tickets, postpone the date, but he’d said, No, let’s just go. It’ll be great. I promise.

Broke which promises? he said.

Shh, said the woman behind us.

I took a pen out of my purse and wrote on the back of my program, He promised to meet her for dinner and didn’t.

Mark’s smile was weary. Very funny, Lizard. My name is Elizabeth, but Mark only uses it when he’s upset. He calls me Liza in bed, Zab from another room ("Za-ab! Have you seen my glasses?), and Lizzie-bean when he wants to make light of my grumblings. Oh, is my little Lizzie-bean lonely at night? he’d said recently, rubbing my cheek with the back of his finger. Poor Lizzie-bean." After which I told him to go fuck himself. After which he suggested we go see Medea together. Just the two of us. On a date. Lizard is kind of his catchall, covering the bases from appreciation to contrition. Look, I’m sorry, he whispered, I tried to call, but—

I put my finger to my lips, not wanting to hear another excuse. He’s leaving her, I scribbled, for another woman.

Mark let loose a tiny laugh-grunt and grabbed hold of my hand. Then he whispered, barely audibly, "Well at least you can’t complain about that from me."

True. He didn’t have a mistress, in the corporeal sense, but he did have a mistress of a different sort. He wasn’t having sex with her. He was poring over data in her. Writing formulas in her. Typing emails in her. Until eleven, twelve o’clock every night.

Like many of his former colleagues, Mark had been lured away from the math department at CUNY when Lortex, a Texas-based insurance firm, called and asked him to consult on their latest project, using neural networks to fine-tune actuarial charts. The idea, he’d explained to me, his voice all aflutter, was to completely shatter the paradigm of risk management. Instead of assessing risk for various groups of people, he was going to try to figure out a way to predict the actual hour, within a plus or minus range of seventy-two hours, of a single individual’s demise. If it worked, we’d have the first financial cushion of our working lives. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be any worse off than we were now, which is to say, like anyone making a go of New York without funds modified by trust or hedge, struggling to keep up with the rent. It’ll mean a few late nights, he’d said, offhandedly, nothing major. He estimated six months before a working prototype could be built. Seven at the most. But three years and several hundred late nights later, his model, he’d recently admitted, still wasn’t correlating with reality. Oh really? I’d snapped. Well neither is ours.

I focused my attention back on the play. The actress playing Medea was beginning to cloy, playing the role like a put-upon housewife, her shoulders sloped inward, her delivery mousy. Medea should have been strong in her fury, full of bluster and brawn. Or at least worthy of her spotlight as a Greek hero. "I will kill," she kept muttering. I will kill. But she didn’t seem capable of icing a cake, much less her offspring.

"Remember you started this war of words, Jason was now shouting, from stage left. As for your complaints about this marriage, I’ll show you that in this I’m being wise, and moderate, and very friendly to you, and to my children."

My mind wandered off the stage and back to our narrow floor-through on West Eighty-fifth Street: to the vestibule overflowing with mini-coats and solitary mittens; to Tess’s stuffed animals flung across the parquet like bodies at Antietem; to the forlorn ticktock of the kitchen clock once the girls had been tucked into bed. A few days earlier, Daisy had taped a new drawing to the refrigerator: three figures, a mother and two daughters, with the words MY FAMLY stenciled in block letters across the top. "You forgot the i, I’d said, between the m and the l." It didn’t seem fair to point out the other omission. The missing i could be easily replaced; the missing we not so easily. I suggested, perhaps too nervously, that Daisy put the drawing in her special box, to keep it safe from the ravages of sticky fingers and spilled grape juice. Don’t worry, Mom. We can keep it out, she’d said. Daddy won’t notice.

The curtain fell. The houselights came up. I extricated my now clammy hand from Mark’s. You’re right, I whispered, at least I don’t have to worry about you and another woman.

Because I’d waited for Mark outside the theater before the play, instead of going to the bathroom as I’d needed, I spent intermission waiting my turn to use one of the three stalls available, watching the men move in and out of their facilities with the efficiency of cars on an assembly line. I pictured the inside of their bathroom, the wall of urinals like stops on a conveyor belt, the swift zip-release-zip motion of fingers and genitals, the hands washed and dried or perhaps not, with nary a glance in the mirror, while on our side precious time was lost to spreading toilet paper over seats, pulling down hose, hiking up skirts, tugging on tampons, locating flushing mechanisms, pulling up hose, straightening out skirts, and fidgeting with locks which never seemed to want to close. Can you hold this door for me? we’d ask each other. Or Does anyone have any paper? Mine’s out. And wads of paper would pass from stall to stall, and this one would hold that one’s door shut, and more time would be lost, more minutes wasted.

And as I stood there in line and waited, mentally transforming each woman in front of me into a giant uterus, giving birth to other girls, other uteruses, telescoping out one by one from the original like the matrioshka dolls Tess used to love to split open and toss about the living room floor, heads rolling under couches, torsos under chairs, which every night I carefully gathered and reassembled, so she could scatter them once again, I thought about all those mothers and mothers-to-be, chugging along, finding detours around all those inconveniences and compromises that would have to be weighed and measured and fought over and swallowed while the men went about their business, zip-release-zip, unhampered and unfettered, along the conveyor belts of their lives.

You were in the bathroom this whole time? Mark said, with a slight tone of annoyance, as the houselights blinked and the bodies hustled back into their seats.

No, I said. I was in Stockholm. Fetching my Nobel. Want to see it?

I thought we were supposed to talk.

Yes, that was the plan. But now we’d have to rush home after the play to relieve the babysitter we could ill afford, and I’d check my email or maybe read, and Mark would plant himself in front of his computer to surf the porn sites he thought I didn’t know about, and I’d check on the girls and probably pass out on the couch watching the end of Jon Stewart, still in my clothes, and Mark would try to rouse me but fail, and I’d awake with a start, maybe two AM, maybe three, and hit the power on the remote and stumble my way in the dark to our bedroom, liberating breasts and limbs from straps and buttons and saying to hell with the toothbrush, and I’d see Mark passed out on top of the duvet, a chalk outline of himself, and I’d slip in under the covers on my side of the bed, wishing I’d remembered to grab a glass of water, diving into dreams about sinking ships and quicksand sidewalks, and then the window would lighten, the alarm would go off, another day would begin. Maybe we can talk next week, I said.

On stage, Jason and the children departed to deliver the poisoned robe and crown to Creon’s daughter. Medea paced around the stage, finally gathering strength now, like a tropical storm. And then, just as Medea began to slaughter her children (tastefully, behind a scrim), just as the lamentations and wails began to echo throughout the house, and the blood began to splatter across the scrim, crimson Rorschach blots arousing the sleepy unconscious, April Cassidy, wearing a pair of red shorts, burst forth into my mind’s eye.

Come play! she was saying, or so it seemed, or so I thought, It’s been so long. And I saw her blue lips and heard the phantom words spoken as clearly as if they’d been uttered by Medea’s children themselves, who were shouting, pleading, begging to be saved: "Yea, by heaven I adjure you; your aid is needed! Even now the toils of the sword are closing round us . . ."

I rubbed my eyes, thinking the hallucination a trick of exhaustion, of a flulike fever now palpably mounting and no longer possible to ignore. But the harder I rubbed, the clearer the vision became.

Mark, I said, tugging on his shirt, I’m having a . . . I think I’m hallucina . . . help. This last word was spoken feebly. My heart beat inside my chest like a sneaker in a dryer.

Mark looked at me, genuinely concerned. What is it, Z? He put his hand on my forehead. Oh my god, Lizzie. You’re burning up.

I felt the theater closing in on me, the stage lights pulsing and swirling as if the psychedelic pyrotechnics were about to kick in. I needed a blast of January air, space to breathe, light. I’ve got to get out of here, I whispered to my neighbor, I’m so sorry, and I stood up and held onto the seat in front of me for balance. Which is when, according to my husband, the woman behind us yelled, Jesus! Sit down and shut up already! and Mark’s BlackBerry went off, and the actress playing Medea flubbed her line about feeble lust and ruin, and I fainted, hitting my head on the armrest on the way down.


DR. KAREN RIVERS sat on the Eames chair in front of me, a yellow notepad resting on her knee. So, she said. Why are you here?

If I knew that, I thought, then I wouldn’t be here. It was my internist’s idea, I said, relieved to have the excuse. I’ve been fainting, a lot, and nobody can find any physiological reason why that should be happening. I’d blacked out seven times altogether, if you counted the afternoon I was standing in the yard of my daughters’ school, waiting for them to emerge, and was able to catch myself on the chain-link fence, my fingers clinging to the metal diamonds like claws, before everything went dark. Six times if you counted only the episodes in which I awoke to find small crowds gathered around me, staring down or trying to rouse me with newspaper fans.

I’d gone for a CT scan at Mount Sinai. Normal. I was tested for Ménière’s at New York Presbyterian. Inconclusive. My blood pressure was in the normal range, so it wasn’t, explained my internist, run-of-the-mill vasovagal syncope. Vase-o-bagel what? I’d said, and he’d chuckled and said, No, it has nothing to do with bagels, but it can have to do with stress. How’s your mental state of late?

And how did you answer his question? Dr. Rivers now asked.

I said I was fine.

Are you fine? Her expression was inscrutable. I wondered if she practiced it in the mirror.

What do you think?

She cocked her head. "What do you think?"

Is that how things work in here?

More or less.

Okay. I guess I’m not sure, then. If I’m fine.

You’re not sure. She jotted down a note on her pad. Would you like to elaborate?

I guess part of me feels a little . . . lost. This wasn’t the right word exactly, but it wasn’t the wrong one either. How else to describe the sense that my life had gone off track?

What do you mean ‘lost’?

I shrugged. I’m not sure.

You’re not sure. She waited, in vain, for me to continue. After a long pause, in which I could sense her disappointment in my inability to plumb the depths of my subconscious, she flipped over to a fresh page in her notebook. Let’s back up. Start with some easier questions. How old are you?


And have you ever been treated by a psychiatrist before?


Thus we spent the next half hour, delving into the world of verifiable fact, but even to some of Dr. Rivers’s simple queries I found myself responding with addendums, caveats, and apologies. When asked, for example, how to spell my last name, I said it was Burns, but if she was asking for purposes of insurance, she should write down Elizabeth Burns Steiger, my legal name ever since that rainy afternoon in 1999 when a particularly unpleasant US postal worker told me I couldn’t retrieve the baby present that had arrived for Daisy because the last name on my ID did not match the last name on my daughter’s package.

How about your work? said Dr. Rivers. Dr. Leland told me you’re a journalist, right? A TV producer?

So to speak.

So to speak?

I chastised myself for not answering at least that one succinctly and in the affirmative. I was a journalist, after all: eighteen years and counting, the last six of which I’d focused, out of financial necessity, on television production. It’s the word I always scribbled in the blank following mother’s occupation on the emergency forms for the girls’ school. I should have just said yes and been done with it. But I knew, even when filling out those forms, that to call what I did journalism of late was generous. My most recent assignment, from Entertainment Now, had been to stake out the entrance of the W Hotel waiting for an actress whose ménage à trois with a Brazilian hooker was making the rounds of the blogosphere. The one before that, for a failed pilot called Real Women, Real Beauty, had me interviewing random women on Madison Avenue on the subject of their nails.

Meaning, I guess sometimes I feel like I’m just treading water these days, I said to Dr. Rivers. The work feels empty.

My career, prechildren, I explained, had been going along a fairly normal trajectory, with various internships and wire-service gigs which lead to postings in Newsworld magazine’s Rome bureau and then New York. But by the time Kosovo was imploding, so was I. It wasn’t burnout per se, although I was definitely burned out. It was . . . I paused. Dr. Rivers remained silent, waiting for me to continue, but I let it drop. I could never even explain any of it to Mark. I was pregnant with Daisy at the time, and it was just easier to blame the months of crushing fatigue and confusion that followed on that.

I returned to work faithfully after each brief maternity leave, taking a more deskbound position as an editor after Tess arrived, but it didn’t take long for me to grasp the economic realities of American parenthood. An old colleague of mine, who lived in Paris, would gasp when we’d swap stories. Clem was given a year-long paid maternity leave and placed Sophie in a state-subsidized crèche the day she went back to her job which, by law, she could only perform thirty-five hours a week. A doctor checked Sophie’s ears, nose, and throat every Friday afternoon, doling out free antibiotics to her and her classmates whenever necessary. But I don’t understand, Clem would say when I’d complain about our crushing childcare expenses, the five-figure preschool bills, the uncovered well visits to the pediatrician which I had to sneak out of my office to attend. How can you afford to live like this?

We can’t, I’d say.

"What about daycare? Surely there is an affordable crèche nearby, non?"

I laughed. There was a daycare center on the outskirts of my neighborhood which, while not affordable, was at least more reasonable, at least for one child, than a full-time sitter, but to get in I would have to have applied Daisy while she was still in utero.

"Incroyable, said Clem. No wonder all those American girls are dropping their babies in dumpsters."

Since uprooting the kids to France was not in the cards, Mark and I decided that I would switch from my full-time magazine job to freelance television producing for a few years, figuring we’d reassess the situation and our finances once the girls were in school. Then, just as Tess was getting ready for kindergarten, just as I was getting ready to ramp back on, as the social scientists were now calling it, the news divisions of all the major networks announced massive layoffs. A month later, my old editor at Newsworld took me out to lunch to inform me that not only was my former position there no longer available, it no longer even existed on the masthead. We’re down to one foreign editor, he said, mumbling something about falling ad revenues, the rise of online media, the lack of general interest in international news. The only magazines with any real budgets to burn, he said, were either lifestyle/consumer or celebrity ones, but if I wanted, he could definitely set me up an interview with the editor of a new venture called Scoop, which sounded promising, until I got to the interview and blew the job within the first five minutes of sitting down. What do you mean you’ve never heard of Pratesi? squawked the editor.

But I’d never heard of Pratesi. Or Frette or Crème de la Mer. And I couldn’t bring myself to care, either about the products or the celebrities who used them.

And so I fell deeper and deeper into journalistic purgatory, writing press releases about antifungal medications and a new brand of sneakers for a viral marketing firm, comparing the suction strength of various breast pumps for an online parenting site.

Dr. Rivers jotted down another note on her pad, crossed her left leg over her right. What about your marriage? Everything okay on the home front?

It could be better, I said.


Well, my husband and I hardly ever see each other these days, for one.

And for another?

I don’t know. I just said, ‘for one’ as an expression. I don’t really have a ‘for two.’

I see. She glanced at her clock. Look, Elizabeth, I think we should focus, before our time is up today, on the blackouts themselves. She wondered aloud whether there might be anything to unite them: a thought process; a feeling; a circumstance; a trigger. The first time you fainted, for example, where were you? What was going through your mind?

I was at the theater, I said. "Watching the last act of Medea. Then I suddenly remembered this girl April. From elementary school."

She was a classmate?

A friend. My best friend, actually. In first grade.

And what happened to her after first grade?

She . . . I don’t know. She left. Never came back to school.

She moved?

No, I think she . . . actually, I really don’t know. I never found out. And I haven’t really thought about her since. Until that night, I mean.

I see. She was now scribbling furiously on her pad. And what about the other blackouts? Same questions: where were you, what were you thinking about?

I lined all the other episodes up in my head, a row of dominos: the time at the grocery store, when the girls were playing ring around the rosie in the aisle; the one at the school yard, when I was able to catch myself on the fence; the Saturday when we rented a car to visit friends who’d moved out to the suburbs, and we’d stopped off at an Exxon station to fill up on the way back; the time I was riding on that crowded crosstown bus with Daisy, the two of us sandwiched in the aisle between two other women, one who was nuzzling her nose against the fragrant head of her infant, the other who was ignoring her crying toddler. They were all totally random, I said, listing each one, fall by fall. Picturing the dominos tumbling down. And there’s no pattern to what I was thinking about beforehand. I mean ring around the rosie? A bus ride? A gas station? One has nothing to do with the other.

Dr. Rivers glanced at her clock and sighed. We’re out of time today, she said. But I’d like you to do something for me this week. A little writing assignment, if you will. I’d like you to jot down everything you can remember about that friend of yours. The one who disappeared. I’m not saying she has anything to do with your blackouts, but I have a hunch, if she preceded the first episode, that this disappearance may somehow be significant. At the very least, it’ll be a useful exercise. To focus on your memories. From the past. To try to figure out the significance of their sudden emergence into your present. Especially when it involves a close relationship that was severed.

I never said my relationship with April was painful.

Dr. Rivers’s eyes widened. Neither did I. She scribbled another note. "Was it a painful relationship?"

No, I said, looking down at my hands, noting the prominence of the veins, the cracked crevices of their surface, like a dinosaur’s. Whose hands were these? We were children. Good friends. Nothing painful in that.

Dr. Rivers stole another glance at her clock and gathered her papers, her demeanor calm but expedient. I’ll see you next week, she said, standing up. Then she showed me, cordially, to the door.


THAT NIGHT, UNABLE TO SLEEP, I trained my eyes on the ceiling, trying to conjure April anew. Her significance to my present? What could that possibly mean? We were best friends for two months tops. When we were six. I could barely even remember how we met. I closed my eyes again, trying to will myself into a state of unconsciousness, but my mind kept drifting—to the dentist appointment for the girls I would have to reschedule; to the sheet music that had to be located in a music store in midtown and purchased before Tuesday’s lesson; to a three-by-five-inch piece of wood, jelly beans, and tube of fabric glue that Daisy’s teacher required for god only knew what. And then, just as I was remembering the note Tess’s teacher had sent home, asking me to please replace the extra clothing in her cubby with February-appropriate gear, an image appeared: a young girl standing in front of a wall of cubbies, her arms crossed over her chest like a

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131 valoraciones / 24 Reseñas
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  • (1/5)
    Boring. No real plot or reason for writing the book. Predictable. Anticlimactic.
  • (4/5)
    Really quite good. Unexpected outcome.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. There were a few times I got bored with it just a little as Elizabeth was interacting with Mark. Other than that I devoured this book in 2 nights. The parallels between Elizabeth and Adele were interesting, though Elizabeth made better choices than Adele in the end. It was easy to see how she could have easily crossed the line and made some of the same choices.
  • (4/5)
    I loved this book. It was part mystery, but in a complex manner. It delves into depression, motherhood, marriages, and life. I loved the way the author intertwined the main character now as an adult, contrasted with her friend's mother, years ago. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    I read this book in less than day. Obviously, I connected with it. But the emotional reaction I had to the book has left me very uncomfortable. This story of motherhood and marriage and the compromises we make as we enter into each of these accurately portrays the tensions of contemporary married lives. However, when the narrator briefly touches on what she loves about her husband and children, I felt that it was too brief. Given the intensity of this story, I wanted to know more about the rewarding parts of her relationships with these individuals.
  • (4/5)
    An engaging novel about post-partum depression and unearthing childhood secrets, Between Here and April is a great read. The author is a former war journalist who, in this work, turns her unflinching eye on more domestic matters.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this novel much more than the author's memoir "Shutterbabe." Lizzie investigates an almost forgotten gruesome childhood incident.
  • (4/5)
    When Elizabeth starts fainting for no discernable physical reason, she finds herself thinking of April, her best friend from first grade who just never came to school one day. As Elizabeth researches the case, she learns that April and her sister Lily were killed by their mother Adele in a car in the woods. The more she delves into Adele's life leading up to the tragedy, the more parallels she finds with her own unravelling life.The book did get a bit heavy-handed at times, especially as relates to Elizabeth's relationship with her husband. On the other hand, the author did a masterful job of painting a picture of a woman slowly edging toward the brink with no one and nothing to stop her from plunging. The book was sad and a litle scary, and dealt with a very difficult subject with sensitivity and empathy. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    This book is built around Elizabeth's search to find the truth about what happened to April, her first grade friend who disappeared from school one day. At the time, Elizabeth couldn't get an explanation from her teacher, and her mother was too busy with a new baby and her own issues to really notice that Elizabeth's friend was gone. The truth of what happened isn't too hard for Elizabeth to find out as an adult. After all, when a mother kills herself and her two daughters, there are newspapers articles, which Elizabeth is easily able to find. But it turns out that her search is really to know the unknowable: why did April's mother do this seemingly unthinkable thing?On a quest to try to answer this question, Elizabeth confronts issues of postpartum depression, especially in the early 1970s, before it was recognized as a treatable condition, and the common prescription of Valium to help women who were depressed, whether it actually benefited them or not. Although Kogan gets a bit heavy-handed on these subjects, her characters are well-drawn and believable.
  • (4/5)
    The central charater in this novel is Elizabeth Burns, a journalist and a mother, who is trying desperately to manage the demands and desires of both. Frustrated both with the demands of her home life, as well as with the path her career has taken, Elizabeth tries to revitalize both by investigating the murder of her elementary school best friend, April. April mysteriously disappeared from school in first grade, and it was never entirely clear to 6 year-old Elizabeth precisely what had happened. When Elizabeth the adult and mother discovers that April was killed, along with her sister, by her mother in a murder-suicide, she turns her investigation to what could have April's mother to take her own life and those of her children. Into this story is woven a narrative of Elizabeth's feelings on her family and career. She has made significant sacrifices as a journalist, her marriage has problems, and she never feels quite adequate as a mother. Bouncing betwen these two narratives, Kogan shows how Elizabeth's investigation of April's death forces her to think seriously about her own family and career problems. Though the two clearly intersect, this book can be considered two parallel stories involving the same characters. The mystery story- what happened to April- I found to be far more satisfying than the family narrative. The investigation of April's death reads like a fast-paced mystery, and I was gripped to find out what would happen next. It allows Kogan to engage difficult problems, like post-partum depression, and in many ways, April's desperate mother is the most complicated character in this book, The family narrative I found far less satisfying. Elizabeth's problems are common ones, and this novel really did not offer any sort of new perspective or insight. I found this book hard to put down because I was extremely engaged in the mystery of April's murder, but found it somewhat difficult to get through other parts of the book.
  • (5/5)
    This book has heart and soul touching on some important issues all women at one point may face.Including Postpartum depression.This storys dimensions and ambition will have you turning pages. I felt as if I were invited into the chacters lives.
  • (4/5)
    Deborah Copaken Kogen did a really good job of portraying the acts of desperation, the causes and effects, how one woman through trying to understand another woman who has gone before her comes through a desperate time of her own. Raw, honest and sometimes uncomfortably depressing however truly enlightening. Each of the characters in a weave of untruths discovers their own personal truth.
  • (4/5)
    This work of fiction attempts to tackle the "why" in a murder/suicide of a mother and her two daughters. And while the story does a fair job of exploring this mystery, the plotline actually centers more on the current-day main character of Elizabeth, who is trying to come to terms with her own feelings of discontent. As the story progresses, the reader comes to see the many parallels between Elizabeth and her childhood friend's mother, and the many struggles and stresses that a wife and mother faces, without necessarily finding the love and support she needs to make it through these rough stages in her life. I found myself relating to Elizabeth in many ways, which was almost scary when you think about the theme of this book, but again, this novel is about much more than just a murder/suicide. I thought Kogan presented this book in a nice, easy-to-read, yet very thoughtful format. I went to bed last night with this book embedded in my thoughts, and am a bit unsettled as to how it ultimately sits with me.
  • (3/5)
    An interesing debut, but my, how depressing. A woman is married to a creep, she investigates the death of a childhood friend and learns that the friend's mother murdered her before committing suicide.
  • (4/5)
    This was an extraordinary book in so many ways. The main character is Elizabeth, a young mother who stepped away from a successful career as a journalist to raise her young daughters. The story begins when Elizabeth suddenly recalls an event from her childhood. When they were six years old, Elizabeth's friend April vanishes from her life. No one ever really discussed what had happened to April, or what had become of her. Only after research from that time brought to light that April had died. She and her sister were killed in a murder suicide by their mother. There are threads of post partum depression in Aprils story, and a mother who was without diagnosis or help, as it was not a recognized condition at that time. This information comes to light when Elizabeth's daughters are the same ages as April and her sister. Although in the beginning one might think this is a story about April it is far more about Elizabeth. She is a young woman who has lost confidence in her marriage and her decisions. Her self esteem and self worth are in seriously short supply.It is a story of how Elizabeth finds her way.
  • (2/5)
    Kogan's first stab at fiction (after "Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War") renders mixed results. The story centers on a frazzled wife and mother, Elizabeth Burns, who 35 years after the fact, becomes obsessed with the disapearance of a childhood friend. When she learns that her six-year-old best buddy, April, was killed by her own mother in a murder/suicide ordeal, Elizabeth decides to investigate. In the meantime, she questions her marriage, her career and her devotion to her children.While the story holds promise and Kagan's writing moves the plot right along, some of the characterizations give a reader pause. Elizabeth's husband, Mark, never rises above smuck status, despite a backstory about the tragic loss of his own mother. And while Elizabeth grapples in therapy with disturbing memories of April, she fails to mention a horrific incident which occurred less than a decade earlier. Overall Kogan misses the boat in conveying just exactly what it is Elizabeth is searching for.By the end of the book you may have the sense that with her second novel, Kogan will straigten herself out and fly right. And, hopefully, with more conviction than her narrator evidences by the end of "Between Here and April."
  • (3/5)

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    I really give this 3 1/2 stars.

    This was one of those books that was really tough to put down. It was a quick read that kept me interested and engaged throughout, and I can't really think of a place where it slowed down.

    The author does a fantastic job of intertwining and juxtaposing two very different, yet also very similar stories. Adele Cassidy's story is echoed throughout the novel by Elizabeth's own relationship with her mother, and again by her relationship with her two daughters. Although Elizabeth and her mother did not react to the struggles of motherhood as severely as Adele, it is becomes easier for the reader to sympathize with Adele, and to see her as something other than a monster.

    Although the ending was poignant, it left a few holes to be filled - most notably, how Elizabeth and Mark saved their marriage. Did they go to therapy? Does he know about her infidelity? Did she tell him about her rape, and if so, did it help him to understand her hatred of his bedroom behavior and/or was she able to get past that experience as a compromise? I know it's a somewhat trivial thing to wonder - they clearly worked out their problems for the time being at least, I just couldn't help but wonder how they worked through them successfully. And of course we do know what he did about his job, and that she was able to go back to some semblance of her career. But anyways, enough of my rambling about what I'd like to know about a fictional relationship :)

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a page-turner, and one with substance that really made me think. I found it easy to relate to the characters, even without having (yet) the experience of being a mother.

    *Review of ARC

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  • (4/5)

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    Elizabeth, a journalist and mother, is one evening jolted by the memory of a friend from first grade who one day "disappeared" from school. She embarks on a journey to find out what happened to the girl, April, and is forced to explore issues such as postpartum depression, patriarchal bias, and filicide. As she digs deeper into April's story, parallels to her own life and relationships, with her mother, her daughters and her husband, become clear. The result is a story that is both Elizabeth's, and April's, as well as April's mother, Adele's. At times, I found this depressing and hopeless, but it is just that emotional depth that elevates the writing from something voyeuristic to empathetic. I found myself meditating on my own relationship with my mother in comparison to April's and Elizabeth's. I would imagine if the reader is also a mother, she might find this book even more poignant. Parts of it made me wonder if it wasn't a true story with identifying characteristics changed to protect the innocent/guilty. Highly recommended.

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  • (2/5)

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    PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK- CONTAINS KEY POINTS OF PLOT!!!!Ugh! I really hate that I have to give this two stars. I really liked this book for the most part. I found the story of April and her murder very interesting, and I was curious to see how Lizzie's marriage and motherhood would blend with Adele's. These are the issues I had with the story:1) Why don't we ever find out why Mark is so obsessed with bondage? We never learn why he needs it, and we never find out if he and Lizzie work through it. In fact, we don't even know why she freaks and leaves him. What did he do this time that was so different from the others that she couldn't take it anymore?2) We never find out of Lizzie finally tells Mark about her rape. Why not? That was a big plot point that really got me. Here he is trying to get her into bondage and she clearly has issues with it because of the rape, yet she doesn't say anything to him about it? I find it hard to believe.3) Now this is why I am really upset about the book. I was really interested to see how the author was going to get Adele's story into the plot. Obviously we weren't going to hear from Adele herself, but how was she going to portay her thoughts and reasonings so we may understand why she did what she did? It really pissed me off that the author decided to have Lizzie write a story about it. It seemed like a cop out to me. I didn't read 200+ pages to hear Adele's side of the story just so I could read some story Lizzie made up on her own. I also didn't like that she had April talking about her like she was the best thing ever. I don't believe that April would have been yapping about her when her mother was acting so strange. I wanted the author to find a way to tell us Adele's side, not make something up. I would have been happier if she just left it as it was, with nobody every truly being able to know what happened. Then she could have spent more time on Lizzie and Mark's relationship and cleared up that mess. Overall, I was happy with the book until about page 220 or so. Then it all went downhill, almost like the author knew it was time to wrap things up and she needed to figure out what the best and fastest way to do it was.

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  • (4/5)

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    "Between Here and April" by Deborah Copaken Kogan is a hard book to read as it tries to explain the unexplainable: Why does a mother commit suicide and take her children into death with her?Kogan's novel seeks to find some resolution to this question through the story of a brief childhood friendship between Elizabeth Burns, the now adult married mother of two girls, and April Cassidy, a friend from second grade who one day never returned to class. The teacher's explanation and overheard remarks confuse and frighten six-year-old Elizabeth who now, as an adult, feels compelled to investigate the truth about April's disappearance. What she discovers is painful but a story many women will recognize if not identify with.Kogan's characters, both the adults and children, are realistically drawn and they draw the reader into the private lives of childhood and the incomprehisible adults that surround them.

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  • (2/5)

    Kogan had so many threads of interesting stories going on here – a long-forgotten memory of a childhood friend that springs to the surface, a long-ago love affair, a marriage that has nearly succumbed to ennui, the tragedy of undiagnosed postpartum depression, and the struggle a woman faces when career seems more attractive to her than family – but this one just failed to come together in a seamless fashion.

    As my mother would say, “Too much candy for a nickel,” especially when you finally GET the candy and it’s not as good as you thought it should be.

    Unfocused and rushed – those are the two words that sprung to mind over and over as I read it. Good enough to hold my attention, but just marginally.

  • (4/5)
    Elizabeth Burns, a journalist who has given up traveling the world to cover war stories in order to be there for her two children, begins suffering blackouts one day. When medical tests show there is no physical reason for her fainting spells, Elizabeth seeks psychiatric help. What she discovers is a long buried memory of the disappearance of her best friend April when she was six years old. Driven to seek out the truth, Elizabeth begins to research her April’s disappearance and uncovers a horrible truth – the disappearance was actually a murder committed by the girl’s own mother. Elizabeth’s journey to uncover the truth and understand the mind of a woman who would kill her own child opens a floodgate of unresolved issues for Elizabeth – a failing marriage, a brutal gang rape, and questions of her own ability to mother.Between Here and April is a novel which reaches into the dark recesses of the human mind and looks at one of the most difficult to understand crimes: filicide. Deborah Copaken Kogan brings to the novel her own background of journalism (she is the author of the bestselling memoir Shutterbabe which explored her life as a war photographer), and a history which includes a murdered childhood friend. In mining her own experiences, Kogan brings to her writing an honesty and clarity that transforms the novel into something that feels like a true crime story.Between Here and April is provocative, tough to read and at times uncomfortable as it explores the subjects of sexual perversity, rape, child abuse, discrimination against women, and the unrelenting demands placed on mothers. Filicide is a crime which is almost unspeakable – and yet Cogan takes this topic head-on and seeks to find empathy for the woman who would be driven to commit such an act.Cogan’s writing is sharp, intuitive and hypnotic. I always enjoy novels written by journalists who have honed their writing skills to get to the core of the story quickly, and who know how to create tension and conflict between characters. This is not a book for everyone. Many readers will be disturbed by the images Cogan creates. The subject matter will turn many readers off. But, those readers willing to follow Cogan into the darkness will be rewarded with a story not soon forgotten.Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    The headlines shock us when we read them. The stories of Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, and other women who kill their children. The shock-value exists because we expect our mothers to be nurturing, protecting, chocolate-chip-cookie-baking women who love us no matter what. When they instead become homicidal maniacs, we assume they are a type of monster we will never understand. Yet in “Between Here and April,” Deborah Copaken Kogan explores tragedy, postpartum depression, and the despair a mother must feel to even entertain the thought of killing her young rather than leave them behind to fend through life without her. While watching a performance of Medea with her husband, our protagonist Elizabeth Burns has a physical reaction to the play as she subconsciously recalls April Cassidy, her best friend from first grade. They were only friends for a couple of months—from the beginning of school to mid-October—because one day April failed to show up to school. It wasn’t until this performance of Medea that Elizabeth remembers her friend and is prompted to find out what happened to April and her older sister, Lily.Elizabeth returns to her childhood home to research those who—30 years later—might remember April’s mother, Adele Cassidy. During her investigation, she interviews friends, neighbors, Adele’s widower, her speculative lover, and—through a far-fetched coincidence—she gains access to the transcripts of Adele’s visits to her psychiatrist. When I began to read this book, I was doubtful that Kogan could make me feel empathy for a woman who killed her children. But by the end of the book, I had to stop and acknowledge that she did it. She pulled it off. And I think it was the psychiatric transcripts that did it for me.One side-story woven throughout stems from Kogan’s life before this book. (She was an Emmy Award-winning TV producer at ABC and for Dateline NBC. Her first book, “Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War,” is a memoir of her work as a photojournalist during wartime.) She loans that life to Elizabeth who, married and pregnant, is on her last trip the Balkans as a photojournalist. She and her companion are captured by eight Serbs and she is repeatedly raped by her captors. She never tells her husband about the rape and their marriage suffers greatly for it. He’s into bondage and because she won’t communicate with him, he can’t understand why she freaks when he brings out the cuffs.Throughout the novel, Elizabeth is full of self-doubt. She constantly compares herself to Adele… they both are the mother of two girls, they both struggle with their marriages, they both suffer with mental demons and sometimes depression. When circumstances are similar, it’s difficult NOT to make comparisons. And when making comparisons to the rest of the mothers in the world, it’s difficult not to conclude that we’re failing. I don’t want to sound like I condone the killing of our young, but after reading “Between Here and April” I do have a better understanding of those who have the misguided belief that they are helping their children by removing them from this life. This is an amazing book, simultaneously beautiful and sorrowful. It is simply haunting.
  • (4/5)
    Between Here and April is both subtle and empathetic in it's exploration of one of our society's most horrible crimes, filicide. Triggered by a repressed memory of the death of a childhood friend, journalist Elizabeth Burns, begins a quest for the truth behind April's death and finds she has to face the truth of her relationship with her own mother, her husband, and her family. As her marriage is crumbling, her investigation of that tragedy causes her to face her own demons from her time spent covering the war in Serbia, her husband's sexual requests, and her role as a mother. Deborah Copaken Kogan writes with both sensitivity and urgency as she follows Elizabeth’s investigation. As Elizabeth finally imagines the agony April’s mother was enduring as she planned their deaths, she provides a haunting account of our society’s ignorance in dealing with the hormonal problems of post-partum depression and severe PMS. While this would seem to be a hard book to read……..its subject matter is so very serious..... this story is so well written, I couldn’t put it down. Actually, I have been a fan of Algonquin Books since their inception in 1982. In the days before the superstore booksellers, hardbacks were separated from paperbacks and Algonquin published smaller format books whose size stood out on a shelf. I had such faith in their editors; I could just buy one without even reading the notes knowing I would love it. Bought in 1989 by Workman Press Algonquin retains editorial control over works of fiction and continues to nurture authors such as Kogan. Well done!