This first novel by a celebrated American poet is a story of mothers and daughters, of sexual identity, and of a family disintegrating after the premature death of its patriarch. Anna Crane, soon to be married, reflects on her childhood in Ohio during the 1960s and '70s with her two sisters and Lilly, her charismatic, self-destructing mother. Lilly is consumed by memories of her late husband and spends her days dreamily creating paper menageries or preparing for dates with a stream of suitors. Evoking the claustrophobia of small-town life, the novel races toward a chilling conclusion when Anna is betrayed by the two most important figures in her young life. Not since Alice McDermott's That Night has there been such a telling portrait of first love. And not since Mona Simpson's Anywhere But Here have we witnessed the destructive, seductive nature of a mother who insists on competing with her children.