Early Leaving: A Novel

By Judy Goldman

William Morrow, 304 pp., $24.95

Going home for the holidays makes everyone remember that they don’t come from the perfect family. We all get these ideas of what the perfect family is: We see them on TV, and even invent recipes for fantasy families–from scratch–in our minds. But these flights of fancy rarely mimic our true realities.

In her novel Early Leaving, Judy Goldman weaves together the lives of Kathryne Smallwood, her husband Peter (a prominent patent attorney) and their only son Early, a star athlete, honor student at his Charlotte prep school, and upcoming freshman at Duke. Inexplicably, the day after graduation, Early is arrested for the murder of a black teenager. On the eve of her son’s guilty plea, Kathryne scrutinizes every memory from his birth to the night of the murder. Could she have seen it coming and prevented it? In her effort to create the perfect family and raise the perfect child, she discovers that it might be possible to love a child too much, thus playing a bigger role in Early’s downfall than she ever could have envisioned. Goldman will have a reading and signing of Early Leaving on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble , 760 SE Maynard Road, Cary. 467-3866 for details and directions.