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Malcolm Dowd is almost positive he recognizes the freshman who shows up for a session at his office in Baxter College’s Center for Behavioral Health - he just can’t place her. When suddenly she stands, takes off her wig, and reveals herself as Noah, the young man Malcolm had been treating months earlier, it marks the start of a relationship that will change them both.
After losing his wife at a young age, Malcolm dedicated himself to giving his two daughters the stable, predictable childhood he never had. But now, nothing is predictable - not his young-adult daughters, not himself, and certainly not Noah. Whether he’s attending class or rehearsing for the campus musical, Noah finds he’s often challenging everyone’s definition of gender. During the course of one semester, Noah and Malcolm’s lives become entwined in ways neither could ever have imagined.
Told alternately from Malcolm and Noah’s perspectives, The Listener explores the ways in which we conceal and reveal our identities. As truth after truth is exposed, characters are forced to reconsider themselves and reorder their lives, with few easy answers to be found for anyone. The Listener is, ultimately, about the power of human connection and the many shapes that love can take.
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- Gretchen F.
Written with gentle wit and compassion
This beautifully written book leaves the reader wishing it were much, much longer. The characters, introduced with both candor and compassion by the author, give voice to the challenges of genuine acceptance of those closest to us. The words and actions of the characters are edifying, and yet the characters remain likable, realistic, and current. Apparently, differing viewpoints can cohabitate.
Interestingly, Basch, with startling acuity, portrays both the importance and the emotional perils of analysis. She's clearly well-versed in this and many other areas of on which she touches, including sailing.
Basch is a writer of rare talent. Her gift with language is a reminder of the possibilities for contemporary literature.
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