"A Gate at the Stairs" by Lorrie Moore


Tassie Keltjin, a college student, has taken a job as a part time nanny for a mysterious and glamourous family. She cares for their adopted biracial daughter as though she is her own as she navigates her way through life. But over the year her life goes through dramatic changes. And then she discovers that the family she has become a part of has a secret that could change everything.

A Gate at the Stairs is a tale of family and love. There are many additional themes woven throughout the novel and the US preparations for war in the Middle East following 9/11 serves as a backdrop to the story. The book also examines the idea of family and what makes up one including biological families, adoptive families, biracial families.

The characters seem a little under-developed as do some relationships in the novel. Tassie's life is broken up into different parts and the connection between them does not seem to be that strong. The ending of the book as well is not very strong. However, the imagery in the novel is beautiful and the main plot of the book is an interesting one that has the reader knowing something tragic is going to happen and wondering exactly what it will be.

A Gate at the Stairs is a quick read and one that touches upon the nature of families and love. It is a little under-whelming but overall is still worth reading.

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