It was gloomy at the store, but somehow business went on; people kept coming in for cigarettes or for an issue of Ramparts or Jaques Loussier doing jazz versions of Bach pieces. When I arrived, my father was pacing, clearly annoyed by one of the regulars, known in our family as "the mooch."
-- Shrug, by Lisa Braver Moss.
Shrug is loosely based on the author's own tumultuous childhood in Berkeley in the 1960s, in a violent household. Teen-aged Martha has to navigate the complexities of family abuse with a violent father who owns a record store and a mother who is off the rails. Instead of going downhill herself, all Martha wants to do is finish high school go to college. But the stress in her life manifests itself in a tic she can't control, a shrug of her shoulder.
FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION:
Martha perseveres with the help of her best friend, who offers laughter, advice about boys, and hospitality. But when Willa and Jules divorce and Jules loses his store and livelihood, Willa goes entirely off the rails. A heartless boarding school placement, eviction from the family home, and an unlikely custody case wind up putting Martha and Drew in Jules's care. Can Martha stand up to her father to do the one thing she knows she must—go to college?
With its running "soundtrack" of classical recordings and rock music and its vivid scenes of Berkeley at its most turbulent, Shrug is the absorbing, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting story of one young woman’s journey toward independence.
Lisa Braver Moss is a writer who was born in Berkeley and still lives in the Bay Area. She usually writes nonfiction, specializing in family issues, health, Judaism and humor. Her essays have appeared in the Huffington Post, Parents, Tikkun, Lilith, and other publications. Shrug is her second novel; The Measure of His Grief was her debut novel.
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