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The Sunshine When She's Gone

A Novel

Thea Goodman

Henry Holt and Co.

A fresh, funny, and wisely observed debut novel about marriage—about the love, longing and ambivalence exposed when a husband takes the baby on a highly unusual outing

When Veronica Reed wakes up one frigid January morning, two things are “off”—first of all, she has had a good night’s sleep, which hasn’t happened in months, and second, both her husband and her baby are gone. Grateful for the much-needed rest, Veronica doesn’t, at first, seriously question her husband’s trip out to breakfast with baby Clara. Little does she know, her spouse has fled lower Manhattan, with Clara, for some R&R in the Caribbean.

Told through alternating points of view, The Sunshine When She's Gone explores the life-changing impact of parenthood on a couple as individuals and as partners. Thea Goodman brings us into intimacies made tense by sleep-deprivation and to losses and gains made more real by acknowledging them. Here is the story of a couple pushed to the edge and a desperate father’s attempt give them both space to breathe.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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1
Thursday Night
John

Kidnap was not the right word. John had simply meant to take Clara to breakfast at the corner diner, where they had good poached eggs and were especially kind to babies. But in the end he couldn’t explain the inexorable pull, the electric thrum that made him rise from the bed, strangely untethered, and begin to shave with scalding water, or the innocence of his motive—he just wanted to be with her. He couldn’t describe the indefinite urgency that had propelled him. Yes, he took the baby with him, but she was his daughter.

Veronica had

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  • Thea Goodman on NPR's Weekend Edition

    Thea Goodman discusses her novel, The Sunshine When She's Gone, on NPR's Weekend Edition.

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Sunshine When She's Gone

“Goodman’s spot-on descriptions… will be acutely recognizable to readers with children.” – New York Times Book Review

“Goodman brings compassion and humor to the domestic struggles of new parents trying to come to terms with the changes to themselves, their spouses and their marriage ‘after baby.’”-- BookPage

The Sunshine When She's Gone is a fresh breath of fiction with rich characters and an engrossing plot, in which Goodman makes the drudgery of new parenting seem utterly exciting. . . . a fast-paced, riveting story out of the pitfalls of new parenthood.” – Shelf Awareness (starred)

"Manhattanites, lovers, parents, readers: This gorgeously human novel is not to be missed."-- Redbook Magazine

"On the one hand ... a comedy of manners. . . .On the other hand . . . a darker, raw look at what happens to a person’s identity when nobody’s looking." – oprah.com, a Book of the Week selection

“A page-turning portrait of a couple in crisis.”—Vogue.com

“. . . This book is so good. . . Goodman’s language has an understated poetry to it, particularly in illustrating the relentlessness of raising a baby. . .  She is at her best in describing the selfish, often bewildering feelings of new parents handicapped by sleep deprivation, when the constant buzzing irritation of wakefulness twists and magnifies a spouse’s shortcomings into fatal character flaws.” – Chicago Magazine

“Sprightly . . . Like every comedy of errors, this novel makes us wince, then grin with relief.”—More Magazine

"Thea Goodman shines in The Sunshine When She’s Gone."—Vanity Fair

"A deft account of love and its sacrifices."—Marie Claire

"[An] exhausted-new-parent fantasy. . . Readers…laughed a lot."—Elle "Readers’ Prize" Pick, March 2013

"First-time novelist Goodman is a master of sustained, 'are-you-KIDDING-me?' tension as John and Veronica compete for the title of Worst Parents Ever. New parents should find validation that their own sleep-deprived insanity is normal and will pass." -- Library Journal

"A sobering tale of two people discovering what it means to be a parent."—Publishers Weekly

"Sharp, intuitive, and empathetic. . . Goodman offers a wickedly incisive take on the pressures of parenthood and the resiliency of marital trust."—Booklist

"Snug and elegant. . . Thea Goodman, a prodigiously talented first-time novelist, distills the keen drama of first-time parenting. . . . The intimacy with which Goodman treats her characters leaves us likewise lucky voyeurs."—Town and Country

"I'm writing this blurb on very little sleep, because I stayed up far too late finishing The Sunshine When She's Gone. Thea Goodman’s novel could deprive you of sleep too. It's suspenseful, funny, realistic, melancholy. She has captured the secret thoughts of new parents so flawlessly, I wonder if she's installed a listening device into my brain." --A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy

"Thea Goodman has made something I would've thought impossible: an edge-of-your-seat narrative about parenting a small child. Her emotional investment in her characters is complete as they confront each other, themselves, and the heavy weight of new love." --Nell Freudenberger, author of The Newlyweds

 
"Thea Goodman's astute debut novel poses the question, What if you were to step out of your imbedded life? And her discerning mind answers it with a tale of Manhattanites more inextricably bound together than they might imagine." --Susan Minot, author of Evening

 
"From its first alarming domestic scene to its far-from-inevitable, unbearably true conclusion, The Sunshine When She's Gone is a faultless portrait of a marriage in crisis and the precarious paths we all must take to keep our lives in balance. Ever been in love? This book will shake you, jolt you, jar you, and wake you up to life."  --Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle and This Bright River

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Thea Goodman

  • Thea Goodman has received the Columbia Fiction Award, a Pushcart Prize Special Mention and fellowships at Yaddo and Ragdale; her short stories have appeared in several journals, notably New England Review, Other Voices and Columbia. Born in New York City, she studied at Sarah Lawrence and earned her MFA from Brooklyn College, CUNY. She has taught writing at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and lives in Chicago with her husband and children.
  • Thea Goodman Fiona McDonagh Farrell
    Thea Goodman
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The Sunshine When She's Gone

A Novel

Thea Goodman

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