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"—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’s brightest star.
"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." — USA TODAY
"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." —Booklist
"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." —Publishers Weekly
Recommended by The Advocate, publication of the National Alliance on Mental Heath (NAMI) —Bookshelf, Sept. 2010
"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." — Bellerista
"Radiant Daughter intrigues on many levels: It is written spectacularly 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. " — Bloomsbury Review
"With great emotional exactness, Radiant Daughter traces out the mystery of illness and the surprises (both bright and dark) of family love. Riveting to read, this is a remarkable novel with is own unsentimental suspense. " —Joan Silber, National Book Award Finalist for A Ring of Stories and Ideas of Heaven