The perceptive and beguiling tale of a young girl’s development as only her father can see it
Chosen as one of the 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years by Slate
Like most biographies, Brian Hall’s charming account of his daughter Madeleine begins at her birth. But unlike most biographies, it concludes with her third birthday. Along the way, it describes Madeleine’s intriguing transition from infant solipsism through toddler self-absorption to a small person’s sociability. Drawing on the same subtle humor and eye for detail that imbued I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company, his acclaimed novel of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Hall gives us a look at Madeleine’s milestones: her first laugh, first words, first tantrum, and brings it all to life from the inside out. By speculating on his daughter’s perceptions and experience as she grows, Hall gives us candid and informed insights into the evolution of language, attachments and separations, and a youngster’s curiosity and fear. What emerges is a portrait of growing consciousness in action, a universal voyage whose every revelation and frustration is captured with stunning detail and intimacy.
“Even nonparents will be fascinated by Madeleine’s World for the ways it delves deep into the thought patterns and imaginative leaps readers half-remember from their own childhoods; for parents, the book—in its insistence that to pay attention is to love—can be almost unbearably moving.” —Slate, “The 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years”
“A most welcome book in a society that loudly celebrates the sentimental notion of family while paying scant attention to the hearts and minds of the messy, ecstatic, sometimes ugly and endlessly eventful lives of the children who actually make families possible . . . Hall stuns with his observational powers and emotional truth . . . [and] succeeds dazzingly at making his daughter and the toddler sensibility come alive.” —Los Angeles Times
“This wonderful ‘biography’ of a baby manages to avoid almost every cliché in the child-development handbook. Using fresh, revealing details, novelist Hall keeps his wits—and wit—about him . . . This is an enthralling journey into a baby’s dramatic world.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A delightful, resonant account of a journey we have all taken but, for the most part, forgotten . . . Hall recreates the gains and losses of growing up in all their bittersweet glory . . . By investing Madeleine’s tiny, often comic struggles with so much meaning, Hall in turn confers an enormous dignity on all adults who undertake the humble, relentless task of being there for small children.” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Hall brims with imaginative and convincing interpretations of his daughter’s every eye-movement from birth onwards, his antennae sharpened—but never biased—by love . . . One re-experiences the world through Madeleine’s eyes, and her closing words about death are so full of human hope I cried.” —The Observer (London)