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Iron Shoes

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Kay Sorenson is stuck. She is forty years old and still trying -- and failing -- to please her glamorous, willful, and indifferent parents. She abandoned a promising music career, settled into a loveless marriage, became a careless mother, and began to drink, smoke, and daydream too much. But when her mother dies, Kay is left without her lifelong crutch and is finally forc Kay Sorenson is stuck. She is forty years old and still trying -- and failing -- to please her glamorous, willful, and indifferent parents. She abandoned a promising music career, settled into a loveless marriage, became a careless mother, and began to drink, smoke, and daydream too much. But when her mother dies, Kay is left without her lifelong crutch and is finally forced to take her first tentative steps toward becoming the woman she wants to be.


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Kay Sorenson is stuck. She is forty years old and still trying -- and failing -- to please her glamorous, willful, and indifferent parents. She abandoned a promising music career, settled into a loveless marriage, became a careless mother, and began to drink, smoke, and daydream too much. But when her mother dies, Kay is left without her lifelong crutch and is finally forc Kay Sorenson is stuck. She is forty years old and still trying -- and failing -- to please her glamorous, willful, and indifferent parents. She abandoned a promising music career, settled into a loveless marriage, became a careless mother, and began to drink, smoke, and daydream too much. But when her mother dies, Kay is left without her lifelong crutch and is finally forced to take her first tentative steps toward becoming the woman she wants to be.

30 review for Iron Shoes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

    A fine work, as far as it went. Perhaps one of the best I've read on the subject of how a parent, damaged by poor nurturing, can spend his/her life haunting the elder generation hungry for what they've missed, all the while exposing their own child to more damage from the same lousy parents plus neglect from themselves. Yes, that's a mouthful. And it's the subject of many a Joyce Carol Oates tale plus a handful of others cropped up in the last 15yrs. As far as it goes, that is. This writer (accor A fine work, as far as it went. Perhaps one of the best I've read on the subject of how a parent, damaged by poor nurturing, can spend his/her life haunting the elder generation hungry for what they've missed, all the while exposing their own child to more damage from the same lousy parents plus neglect from themselves. Yes, that's a mouthful. And it's the subject of many a Joyce Carol Oates tale plus a handful of others cropped up in the last 15yrs. As far as it goes, that is. This writer (according to her note at end) has worked hard to pare the novel down. What is here is JUST RIGHT. Every time you think you've got a bead on that awful grandma, that rotten dad, the character turns around and shows you another layer. This is more than good writing.. it's wisdom! And all done practically by sleight of hand, minus the multigenerational saga one might think were required. I direct you to the grandpa's history in particular-- just a few deft touches, & it's all that's needed. But-- for example-- the author seems to think (per her note) that she's addressed incest. Um, not exactly. Yes, it's probably in there as the perfect motivation for the grandma character, but aside from a few delicate echoes here & there we have no story material on this. You cut too much, Molly! Much great stuff here on loss, and pain/illness as well, if you can bear it. And Giles helps you bear it with loads of dark humor, much of it possessed by the indomitable ill person herself! Can't wait to read more by this author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Doud

    A friend recommended this book to me. A friend I trust and respect. She really enjoyed it. While reading Iron Shoes, I was reminded that reading is such a personal endeavor, that we each bring something different to the experience, that time and place can have a huge effect on it. That said, I have to say that I didn't like this book. It really bothered me. I found it terribly disturbing and not at all funny. To me it felt cruel, sarcastic, and the family was so dysfunctional, it was uncomfortable A friend recommended this book to me. A friend I trust and respect. She really enjoyed it. While reading Iron Shoes, I was reminded that reading is such a personal endeavor, that we each bring something different to the experience, that time and place can have a huge effect on it. That said, I have to say that I didn't like this book. It really bothered me. I found it terribly disturbing and not at all funny. To me it felt cruel, sarcastic, and the family was so dysfunctional, it was uncomfortable to read about. I wanted to get violent actually and slap each character silly. Everyone was so self-centered and yet self-pitying. From the parents, to the siblings, to the priest, to Kay's girlfriend. Grow-up, I wanted to shout. Yikes. Well, I can't say the book didn't get a reaction from me!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Molly Giles was our author-in-residence during my last MFA semester and her warmth and wit and, yes, somewhat gruesome worldview are all encompassed in this surprising and funny and imaginative novel. She can turn a phrase like few other writers writing today. Highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Her short story "Pie Dance" is one of my all-time favorites. I marvel at how well crafted it is - and how it took me somewhere else, each time I read it. Whether I hyped my expectations too high or something else - I was not as jazzed by her first novel - a bit too bleak for where I am right now - but maybe I'd enjoy it another time. In the meantime, get your hands on her short story "Pie Dance." Definitely not meh! Her short story "Pie Dance" is one of my all-time favorites. I marvel at how well crafted it is - and how it took me somewhere else, each time I read it. Whether I hyped my expectations too high or something else - I was not as jazzed by her first novel - a bit too bleak for where I am right now - but maybe I'd enjoy it another time. In the meantime, get your hands on her short story "Pie Dance." Definitely not meh!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becky Herbert

    One of the best books I've read in the last year. I LOVE her writing - inspires me to pick up a pen. One of the best books I've read in the last year. I LOVE her writing - inspires me to pick up a pen.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Interesting family dynamics and always a challenging mother/daughter relationship. Enjoyed it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mickeymu

    This book was a treasure I found hidden on my shelf for years! Molly Giles is so adept at tragi-comedy dealing with family, siblings, marriage, parenting and friends. One of the best I have read during COVID. Made me laugh and wince at the same time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cath Arlene

    Stopped reading 1/2 way through. Found it dry depressing and the style did not make it worth my time to complete it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    (Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw

    A grown women named Kay Sorenson, once an aspiring concert pianist, has not come out from under the shadow of her parent's expectations and lack of affection. Kay is forever still seeking their approval. She is an alcoholic, unhappily married with one child, working as a clerk in a small public library and considering a career in library science. Her mother Ida is a larger than life charismatic, mean, nacisstic person who has undergone two leg amputations. Even from her wheelchair, she dictates A grown women named Kay Sorenson, once an aspiring concert pianist, has not come out from under the shadow of her parent's expectations and lack of affection. Kay is forever still seeking their approval. She is an alcoholic, unhappily married with one child, working as a clerk in a small public library and considering a career in library science. Her mother Ida is a larger than life charismatic, mean, nacisstic person who has undergone two leg amputations. Even from her wheelchair, she dictates Kay's life. Kay's father is a moody man who frequently goes into hiding, plus he drinks too much. This was a compelling literary, deeply psychological read, but is one of those books you hesitate to recommend. It is clearly not for everybody....

  10. 4 out of 5

    April

    This book was very dark and it depressed me every time I picked it up to read. And yet for some reason, I continued to read until the end. It is a lot about relationships and paints a realistic and less than perfect view, but there is a dark spin on it that didn't sit well with me. If there was one thing I did like, it was that the main character, despite her imperfections, was loving her parents and her spouse the best way she knew how. It wasn't idyllic and certainly felt unhealthy at times, b This book was very dark and it depressed me every time I picked it up to read. And yet for some reason, I continued to read until the end. It is a lot about relationships and paints a realistic and less than perfect view, but there is a dark spin on it that didn't sit well with me. If there was one thing I did like, it was that the main character, despite her imperfections, was loving her parents and her spouse the best way she knew how. It wasn't idyllic and certainly felt unhealthy at times, but she did keep trying.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Padma

    Line by line, IRON SHOES is hilarious, even while each of those sharply-drawn lines deepens the characterization in unexpected ways. Kay seems like someone any of us might know, but her unexpected actions, reaction and observations remind us that we never know anyone as well as we think.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Krisann

    Fortunately I didn't relate to the extremely dysfunctional family, alcoholism and drugs in this book but the premise of forgiveness and finding yourself was fairly interesting. Wouldn't recommend this book, I kind of thought it was ok. Fortunately I didn't relate to the extremely dysfunctional family, alcoholism and drugs in this book but the premise of forgiveness and finding yourself was fairly interesting. Wouldn't recommend this book, I kind of thought it was ok.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Marchessault

    Not one of my favorites. Main character, Kay, is not very likable. Her mother dies and she (Kay) has a dysfunctional relationship with her father. She leaves her husband and goes to AA and decides to go to library school.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie Elizabeth

    This book is about how detrimental settling for things in life is and I love the sarcasm that the main character has throughout the story. It takes some of the most awkward and almost disturbing situations and spins it to make it relate-able through humor.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I stuck it out but never enjoyed this book. I kept hoping it would get better. None of the characters were likable. The story goes nowhere. I will try to find a copy of her short story that was recommended by another reviewer. Sorry, it wasn't my cup of tea. I stuck it out but never enjoyed this book. I kept hoping it would get better. None of the characters were likable. The story goes nowhere. I will try to find a copy of her short story that was recommended by another reviewer. Sorry, it wasn't my cup of tea.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chrysta

    This book had potential but failed to live up to it. It was, at least, readable, although it took me a week or more to finish as it wasn't well paced. This book had potential but failed to live up to it. It was, at least, readable, although it took me a week or more to finish as it wasn't well paced.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I read the first few pages and was bored so gave up on it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vickie Hoover

    Can't say I really, really like it, can say it's one that is memorable and that I'd read again. Can't say I really, really like it, can say it's one that is memorable and that I'd read again.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    The 2-star sums it up: it was ok.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wildwomble

    A prickly portrait of difficult relationships between an adult child and parents - but lyrically written and hard to forget.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Dark and well-written, but I forgot half of it just a day later so not memorable for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    The main character was quite pathetic!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Reminds me of Anne Lamott.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dana Cappiello

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeri

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carole

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jo Sandgren

  29. 4 out of 5

    Georgia Koutsoudis

  30. 4 out of 5

    Minka

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