final cover

Northwestern University Press, 2010

In Radiant Daughter, Patricia Grossman follows a Czech-American family for twenty-seven years, beginning in suburban Chicago in 1969 and ending in Brooklyn—in seaside “Little Odessa”—in 1996.  Though the novel begins as a traditional assimilation story, it evolves into a highly particular and harrowing tale surrounding the descent of Elise Blazek, the family’brightest star.  

USA Today
It starts with an odd, metallic taste in Elise Blazek's mouth when she is a freshman at Princeton. What follows are 27 years of debilitating mental illness, soaring manic highs and plunges into the depths of suicidal depression. Her mother, Irena, a Czech immigrant who wanted her daughter to have all the opportunities that America offered, watches helplessly as her only child's bright future dims and their relationship is strained by the weight of unspoken truths. But despite the years of alienation, the bond between mother and child survives. Patricia Grossman has written a beautiful story of how families love—and forgive.      Ã¢â‚¬â€Korina Lopez, Sept. 23, 2010

from Belletrista

. . . More than just another mental illness story, Radiant Daughter explores the depths of both madness and love, the divisions between cultures and generations, and the meaning of family and true friendship. It is an intense, beautifully written, and hauntingly sad novel that, in Grossman's more than capable hands, still celebrates the resilience of the human heart and the persistence of hope.

—Deborah Montuori,  Nov/Dec, 2010

complete review

from The Bloomsbury Review

Radiant Daughter intriques on many levels: It is written spectatularly well, and Grossman uses many dichotomies to flesh out Elise's struggles. Most clearly, she parallels Elise's manic and depressive episodes with her passion for translating and analyzing Russian poetry. Elise's brilliance makes her illness that much more tragic—and interesting.    Ã¢â‚¬â€Hilary Wermers, Fall, 2011

complete review

from The San Fransico Book Review

This is a novel worth reading.    Ã¢â‚¬â€Leslie Wolfson, Nov. 7, 2010

complete review

from Curled Up With a Good Book

.  . . Although this particular enmeshment of mother and daughter may be situational, outside the norm of everyday experience, the author presents not only valuable insights into the nature of rapid cycling bipolar disorder but also the tangled web of family expectations, a relationship filled with landmines even without the extra burden of mental illness. Frightening in its unchecked intensity and destructiveness, the novel offers hope for existing in a world where a young woman feels she is “eating her own brain,” her grand schemes turned to ashes by the extremes of a troubled mind. There is peace, medication, accommodation, lessened expectations, life made manageable in small moments. Even the bonds of mother and daughter are stronger than that which would destroy them, a heartening message for others so afflicted.     Ã¢â‚¬â€Luan Gaines, Nov. 21, 2010

complete review

from Calyx Journal

Radiant Daughter engages mental illness in significant ways, and the conclusion offers no easy answers, no tidy points of rest. Elise's disease has profound consequences for her and for her mother in the book, but Grossman's narrative renders the difficult parts of a life lived with mental illness with empathy and grace.     —Julie Enzer, Summer 2011

from Booklist 

. . . Grossman tells a powerful story that is both heartbreaking and hopeful
about the bond between a mother and daughter despite generational differences,
cultural disparities, and a tenacious mental illness constantly pushing the strength
of their bond to the limit.      
—Carolyn Kubisz, July 1, 2010 

from Publishers Weekly 
. . . Ultimately, Irena rallies around her daughter with a fierce maternal
sympathy, offering up a fragile closure to this unsentimental story of one
family's gossamer dreams.     —
June 28, 2010

Recommended by: 

The Advocate, publication of the National Alliance on Mental Heath (NAMI), —Bookshelf, Sept. 2010                                                                 


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                                                                                                               copyright   Patricia Grossman