Books by Tracy
You Could Be Home By Now
An hour and a half outside Tucson, Arizona, The Commons is a luxury retirement community where no full time resident under the age of fifty-five is permitted. Young professionals Seth and Alison Collier accept jobs there as a means of dealing (badly) with a recent loss. When a struggling resident, underwater on her mortgage and unable to relocate due to the nation’s ongoing housing crisis, is discovered to be raising her grandson in secret, the story—with the help of a well-meaning teenaged beauty blogger and a retiree with reasons of his own to seek the spotlight—goes viral. You Could Be Home By Now explores the fallout for all involved, taking on the themes of grief and memory, aspiration and social class, self-deception and the drive in all of us to find a place to belong.
Praise for You Could Be Home By Now
Manaster weaves these disparate tales of strife and grief eloquently, impressively depicting an adolescent girl and an aging man with equal fullness and depth. She also resists the urge for easy resolution, denying her readers the simple feel-good solutions and instead offering small amounts of emotional satisfaction that feel realistic and earned.Publisher's Weekly
The setting is the only thing sleepy about Manaster’s debut. Complex, interweaving stories tangle inside The Commons, a retirement community outside Tucson, Arizona … .A scintillating drama that’s touching, funny and impossible to put down.Kirkus Reviews
Poignant, funny debut … A hoot that will touch your heart!People Magazine
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The Done Thing
Lida Stearl prides herself on always knowing the most appropriate thing to do in any given situation, confidence that has served her well in building her career as an orthodontist, maintaining a happy marriage, and raising her young niece in the wake of a violent tragedy. But now she’s a widowed, retired, empty-nester and the small perfections of an orderly life are not quite enough to stop her from feeling adrift.
Then a well-intentioned birthday gift leads to the discovery that Clarence Lusk, on death row for the murder of Lida’s sister and preparing for his final appeal, is seeking pen-pals. Lida, furious, does not think he is entitled to any such consolations, and decides to teach him a lesson: she begins to write him, pretending to be naïve, twenty-three, and just the slightest bit flirtatious. As she accumulates details of Clarence’s life in prison and his connections outside it, her preoccupation with the crime and its echoes intensifies, unsettling those around her and jeopardizing her relationship with her beloved niece. When the date of Clarence’s clemency hearing is set and he begins to suspect there is something strange about his pen pal, Lida finds herself in danger of losing what little family remains to her.
In the vein of the unforgettable women in Olive Kittridge by Elizabeth Strout and The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, Lida is an utterly memorable character, sharp-edged and meddlesome, occasionally unpleasant, at times even venomous, but always deeply sympathetic and human. The voice rings true throughout. The Done Thing is an authentic, assured piece of writing.
Praise for The Done Thing
Manaster (You Could Be Home by Now) has written a deeply human and morally saturated novel, with captivating language. Don’t miss this sympathetic examination of how a tragic incident can irrevocably change a life’s course.Library Journal, Starred Review
An intimate and emotionally charged novel about a complex woman, haunted by her past losses, who becomes obsessed with making the last days of one man's life as miserable as she possibly can. In her second book, Tracy Manaster writes with such care and empathy, as well as depth and detail, that readers will be eager to dive into Lida Stearl's complicated life and discover for themselves how it all unravels.Valerie Geary, author of Crooked River
Lida Stearl is many things: a widow, a parent, a retired orthodontist, a proper St. Louis lady of a certain age, and hell-bent on making her sister's killer's final days on earth as unpleasant as possible. What begins as one woman's obsessive, secret quest for revenge unfolds into a skillful written exploration of forgiveness, family, loyalty, and justice. Tracy Manaster's caustic yet tender second novel is a masterpiece.Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave
The Done Thing is a wonderfully engrossing novel - the unnerving and vividly imagined tale of Lida Stearl, a charming widow who maintains her polite exterior although she's quietly driven by grief and righteous fury. Tracy Manster has written a novel that beguiles with its characters and its gripping story, but it also provides a rich investigation into what happens when we give space to our terrible little impulses, how these tiny monstrosities can grow and spread beyond our control.Peter Mountford, author of The Dismal Science and A Young Man's Guide to late Capitalism
In this engrossing story about the effects that vengeance can have on love, Manaster refuses to take the happy, easy way out, instead leaving her strikingly relatable characters with just enough room to breathe.Publishers Weekly