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Celeste Ascending

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In Celeste Ascending, Celeste, a writer and teacher, finds herself trapped between her legacy of suburban upper-middle-class alcoholism and life in shabby, postcollege Manhattan. While she seeks safe harbor with Alex, a materialistic golden boy given to terrifying bouts of anger, her heart lingers over memories of her first love, the errant and erratic Nathan. Kaylie Jones (A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries) moves effortlessly between past and present, delivering a clear-eyed view of how Celeste got from there to here in lustrous, elegant prose. Even better, she maintains an unsentimental compassion for every one of her characters. A-