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A tender affair and the redemptive power of art are at the core of this compelling novel from National Book Award finalist Allegra Goodman, "a romantic realist who dazzles with wit and] compassion" (The Wall Street Journal).
Collin James is young, creative, and unhappy. A college dropout, he waits tables and spends his free time beautifying the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his medium of choice: chalk. Collin's art captivates passersby with its vibrant colors and intricate lines--until the moment he wipes it all away. Nothing in Collin's life is meant to last. Then he meets Nina. . . .
The daughter of a tech mogul who is revolutionizing virtual reality, Nina Lazare is trying to give back as a high school teacher--but her students won't listen to her. When Collin enters her world, he inspires her to think bigger. Nina wants to return the favor--even if it means losing him.
Against this poignant backdrop, Allegra Goodman paints a tableau of students, neighbors, and colleagues: Diana, a teenage girl trying to make herself invisible; her twin brother, Aidan, who's addicted to the games produced by Nina's father; and Daphne, a viral-marketing trickster who unites them all, for better or worse.
Wise, warm, and enchanting, The Chalk Artist
is both a finely rendered portrait of modern love and a celebration of all the realms we inhabit: real and imagined, visual and virtual, seemingly independent yet hopelessly tangled. Advance praise for The Chalk Artist
"Allegra Goodman creates suspense where you might least expect to find it."--The Atlantic
"All the characters in The Chalk Artist
are questers. An inexperienced English teacher yearns to inspire her students, an artist learns to embrace his talent and a gaming addict finds an unexpected connection to the non-virtual world. This deft novel is filled with the exquisite pleasures one expects from Allegra Goodman, richly layered and emotionally resonant. I absolutely devoured it."--Geraldine Brooks, author of March and People of the Book
"What begins as a sparkling love story of an idealistic young teacher, Nina, and artist Collin, who works only in chalk, becomes a stunning, rich exploration of whether love, art, literature, and nature can compete with breathtaking virtual worlds."--Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Summer Before the War
"Once again Allegra Goodman displays her extraordinary talent, range, and reach. Who else could write such a tender, soulful novel about love and speculative virtual realities?"--Lily King, author of Euphoria and Father of the Rain
"What do you do when ambition collides with love? Goodman answers this messy question with nuance in this heartfelt story about class."--Booklist
"Richly textured . . . Goodman probes the meaning and place of art in contemporary culture in her intricate and empathic novel."--Publishers Weekly
"Goodman's eighth novel takes place in two skillfully evoked worlds that are at war for the hearts and minds of young people: video games versus education. . . . . A very relevant love story with strong crossover possibilities."--Kirkus Reviews