Call Number
Material Type
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Large Type Book

On Order



Miles Adler-Hart starts eavesdropping to find out what his mother is planning for his life. When he learns instead that his parents are separating, he enlists his best friend, Hector, to help investigate. Both boys are in thrall to Miles' unsuspecting mother, Irene. Their innocent detective work quickly takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family's well-being, prosperity, and sanity.

Author Notes

Mona Simpson lives in Santa Monica and New York City.

(Publisher Provided) Mona Simpson was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on June 14, 1957. She received a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her first book, Anywhere but Here, was published in 1987 and was adapted into a movie in 1999. Her other works include The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, and My Hollywood. She won the Heartland Prize of the Chicago Tribune for Off Keck Road. She has also received a Whiting Writers' Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Simpson's latest ensnaring, witty, and perceptive novel of family life under pressure in Los Angeles mines the same terrain as her much-lauded last novel, the immigrant-nanny-focused My Hollywood (2010). Here she puts a clever spin on domestic surveillance as young Miles begins spying on his mother, Irene, a mathematician, just as fault lines begin to appear in her marriage to his father, a Hollywood lawyer. Wily Miles, the overweight older brother of twin sisters he professes to loathe yet watches over tenderly, sets up phone taps of increasing sophistication, opens e-mail, eavesdrops, and paws through drawers, aided and abetted by his friend Hector, who is highly suspicious, and rightfully so, of Eli, post-separation Irene's increasingly enigmatic and elusive lover. As they muddle through middle school and high school, Miles and Hector become an adolescent American variation on Holmes and Watson, with the help of a kind, handsome private eye, Ben Orion. They also embark on a crazy entrepreneurial scheme involving troublesome pets. Simpson's opening gambit is a Note to Customer from the publisher of Two Sleuths, the best-selling comic created by Miles and Hector, but she wisely uses this framing device lightly, allowing this exceptionally incisive, fine-tuned, and charming novel to unfold gracefully as she brings fresh understanding and keen humor to the complexities intrinsic to each stage of life and love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Simpson is a great literary favorite, and this winning novel will be supported by a cross-country author tour and plenty of publicity.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Simpson's (My Hollywood) sixth novel portrays a Santa Monica, Calif., family through the eyes of the only son, Miles Adler-Hart, a habitual eavesdropper who watches his mother, Irene, with great intensity. From an early age, Miles senses the vulnerability of his mother, a recently divorced mathematician, and throughout his childhood and adolescence feels the need to look out for her. When Irene falls in love with Eli Lee, Miles is highly suspicious. He enlists his best friend, Hector, to help him look deep into Eli's background, going so far as to work with a private investigator. Simpson elevates this world of tree houses and walkie-talkies not only through Miles's intelligence-"'Hope for happiness is happiness,'" he tells Hector-but through the startling revelations he uncovers. Simpson tastefully crafts her story in a world of privilege, with private school, show business jobs, and housekeepers all present, but never prevalent details. More remarkable is Simpson's knowledge of her characters, which is articulated through subtle detail: we are not surprised by the flea market blackboard in the kitchen, nor by the preachy quotation Irene chooses to write on it. Ultimately, this is a story about a son's love for his mother, and Simpson's portrayal of utter loyalty is infectious. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Miles Adler prides himself on being a snoop, but after wiring a secret phone extension under the master bed, he overhears a conversation between his parents that turns his stomach. His perfect folks are soon to become a divorce statistic, and if Miles is to stay apprised of the situation, he has no choice but to continue spying. Monitoring his mom's emails is easy; keeping his -overactive imagination in check is not, especially with best friend Hector goading him on. When Eli Lee starts dating mom and promising the moon, she's like a new woman, but even after five years Eli is suspiciously unable to commit. Miles and Hector won't rest until they suss out the truth about Eli, and issues of trust and perception are raised as the boys compile damning evidence against him. Readers will fall in love with Miles as he grows into manhood: from a precocious nine-year-old to a tender big brother to twin sisters to a chubby, angst-filled teen. -VERDICT In this sensitively rendered bildungsroman, Simpson (My Hollywood) recalls authentic, detailed memories of childhood in writing this clever, insightful, and at times hilarious story about family, friendship, and love in all its complex iterations. A great choice for teens and adults to read together and discuss. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]-Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1 ​* ​Under the Bed I was a snoop, but a peculiar kind. I only discovered what I most didn't want to know. The first time it happened, I was nine. I'd snaked underneath my parents' bed when the room was empty to rig up a walkie-talkie. Then they strolled in and flopped down. So I was stuck. Under their bed. Until they got up. I'd wanted to eavesdrop on her, not them. She decided my life. Just then, the moms were debating weeknight television. I needed, I believed I absolutely needed to understand Survivor. You had to, to talk to people at school. The moms yakked about it for hours in serious voices. The only thing I liked that my mother approved of that year was chess. And every other kid, every single other kid in fourth grade, owned a Game Boy. I thought maybe Charlie's mom could talk sense to her. She listened to Charlie's mom. On top of the bed, my dad was saying that he didn't think of her that way anymore either. What way? And why either? I could hardly breathe. The box spring made a gauzy opening to gray dust towers, in globular, fantastic formations. The sound of dribbling somewhere came in through open windows. My dad stood and locked the door from inside, shoving a chair up under the knob. Before, when he did that, I'd always been on the other side. Where I belonged. And it hurt not to move. "Down," my mother said. "Left." Which meant he was rubbing her back. All my life, I'd been aware of him wanting something from her. And of her going sideways in his spotlight, a deer at the sight of a human. The three of us, the originals, were together locked in a room. My mom was nice enough looking, for a smart woman. "Pretty for a mathematician," I'd heard her once say about herself, with an air of apology. Small, with glasses, she was the kind of person you didn't notice. I'd seen pictures, though, of her holding me as a baby. Then, her hair fell over her cheek and she'd been pretty. My dad was always handsome. Simon's mom, a jealous type, said that my mother had the best husband, the best job, the best everything. I thought she had the best everything, too. We did. But Simon's mom never said my mother had the best son. The bed went quiet and it seemed then that both my parents were falling asleep. My dad napped weekends. NOOO, I begged telepathically, my left leg pinned and needled. Plus I really had to pee. But my mother, never one to let something go when she could pick it apart, asked if he was attracted to other people. He said he hadn't ever been, but lately, for the first time, he felt aware of opportunities. He used that word. "Like who?" I bit the inside of my cheek. I knew my dad: he was about to blab and I couldn't stop him. And sure enough, idiotically, he named a name. By second grade everyone I knew had understood never to name a name. "Holland Emerson," he said. What kind of name was that? Was she Dutch? "Oh," the Mims said. "You've always kind of liked her." "I guess so," he said, as if he hadn't thought of it until she told him. Then the mattress dipped, like a whale, to squash me, and I scooched over to the other side as the undulation rolled. "I didn't do anything, Reen!" She got up. Then I heard him follow her out of the room. "I'm not going to do anything! You know me!" But he'd started it. He'd said opportunities. He'd named a name. I bellied out, skidded to the bathroom, missing the toilet by a blurt. A framed picture of them taken after he'd proposed hung on the wall; her holding the four-inch diamond ring from the party-supply shop. On the silvery photograph, he'd written I promise to always make you unhappy. I'd grown up with his jokes. By the time I sluffed to the kitchen he sat eating a bowl of Special K. He lifted the box. "Want some?" "Don't fill up." She stood next to the wall phone. "We're having the Audreys for dinner." "Tonight?" he said. "Can we cancel? I think I'm coming down with something." "We canceled them twice already." The doorbell rang. It was the dork guy who came to run whenever she called him. He worked for the National Science Foundation and liked to run and talk about pattern formation. Excerpted from Casebook by Mona Simpson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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