Grossman, Patricia 1951-
Grossman, Patricia 1951-
Writer. Scholastic, Inc., New York, NY, supervising editor.
Ferro Grumley Award, 2006, for Brian in Three Seasons.
Inventions in a Grieving House: A Novella, Galileo Press (Baltimore, MD), 1991.
The Night Ones, illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1991.
Saturday Market, illustrated by Enrique O. Sánchez, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1994.
Four Figures in Time: A Novel, Calyx Books (Corvallis, OR), 1995.
Roar!, illustrated by Adam Devaney and Darren Hont, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Very First Things to Know about Ants, illustrated by John Dawson, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1997.
Ariel's Treasure Hunt, illustrated by Sol Studios, Disney Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Very First Things to Know about Frogs, illustrated by Karen Barnes, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1999.
Unexpected Child, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2000.
Disney's Easy to Read Treasury, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Brian in Three Seasons, Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2005.
Looking for Heroes: A Novel, Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2007.
Patricia Grossman has written numerous books for both adults and children and also served as supervising editor at Scholastic, Inc., in New York City. Grossman's first published work of fiction, Inventions in a Grieving House: A Novella, is a slim, heartfelt volume that looks at the struggles of a painfully precocious girl named Mona, whose daydreams about wonderful inventions serve as a distraction from the pain of her daily life following her mother's death in an accident. Mona's creative tendencies are also something she has inherited from her mother, and so Grossman shows how she unconsciously honors her mother's memory while unintentionally alienating her father, who had always been somewhat overwhelmed by his wife's talents, despite his love for her. Mona's grandmother keeps her daughter's memory alive by setting up gallery shows of her paintings and trying to achieve greater recognition for her art. Unable to shake off the suffocating misery and feelings of loss, Mona sets out to try to find new distractions for her entire family, but she ultimately learns that grief is not something that can simply be wished away. Penny Kaganoff, reviewing for Publishers Weekly, called Grossman's work a "tender, subtle first novella."
Four Figures in Time: A Novel is Grossman's first full-length novel, and in it she weaves together the stories of four individuals who are connected through their associations with an art school in New York City. Sonya, who is mourning the recent death of her lover, is a sculptor. Otis, the president of the school, is suffering a somewhat related pain, though in his case, his estranged wife has breast cancer. The book is rounded out by the stories of two of the art students: Claire, who is a painter heavily influenced by old-fashioned impressionism, and Danny, whose art leans toward imitating Mexican retablos. Despite the interconnectedness of the tales, each character is far more self-involved than they are aware of their surroundings. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found it difficult to sympathize with their plights, stating: "The novel is often quite sophisticated schematically,… [but] there is no making up for the fact that these artists at work are just plain dull." However, Whitney Scott, in a review for Booklist, held another opinion, referring to Grossman's achievement as "an engrossing tapestry of contemporary lives."
Grossman's next work for adults is Unexpected Child, the story of Meg Krantz, a thirty-seven-year-old, single, self-employed lesbian living in New York, who decides that she wants to have a child. Her decision is jump-started by her surprising attachment to a four-year-old almost-orphan (her mother has died and her father is dying) whom she meets while volunteering at an outreach center for AIDS patients and their families. However, due to the combination of her marital status, sexual preference, and unstable financial situation, Meg discovers that adopting a child will be far more difficult for her than for a traditional couple. Grossman follows Meg through not just the technical aspects of adoption, but the emotional ones as well, showing her work through her own issues with her mother in sessions with her therapist so that she understands that she must truly take on the role of adult for herself before she can be a mother to someone else. In a review for Publishers Weekly, one contributor found the characters uneven, with Meg's mother, Charlotte, and the orphan seeming less fleshed out than Meg herself, but ultimately found the book to be "a fast, easy read, if lacking in substance." However, Booklist reviewer Whitney Scott found the work an "engrossing tale of love and family," and Martha Miller, reviewing for the Lambda Book Report, considered Grossman's characters a highlight of the book, stating: "This author knows children. In fact, all of the characters in the novel are real; even the bad ones are well rounded and sympathetic." Miller praised Grossman for writing outside of the stereotypes common in gay and lesbian literature, ultimately concluding that the book is "a different kind of lesbian novel and an unexpectedly good read."
Brian in Three Seasons recounts the autumn, winter, and spring of one year in the life of Brian Moss, a gay man who is nearing forty years of age and still is not happy with the turns his life has taken. He loves art, yet is unable to finish his dissertation on Toulouse-Lautrec; he works more at his bartending job than as an art history teacher; and his love life is nonexistent, leaving him settling for one-night stands and anonymous sex. As the seasons progress, Brian manages to improve his relationship with his father before the elder man dies. He is offered a better job at the college where he teaches, and he is reunited with an old lover. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "Grossman's happily-ever-after plot is predictable, but the novel is redeemed by an engrossing cast of secondary characters."
Looking for Heroes: A Novel features a family living on Long Island and suffering the typical angst found in midlife when shaky marriages start to show their cracks and family members are forced to reconnect or go their separate ways. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated: "While Grossman makes quiet desperation palpable, her tendency to overexplicate gives the proceedings a fussy air."
In addition to her novels for adults, Grossman writes for children and has produced a number of volumes, including The Night Ones, illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich, and Saturday Market, illustrated by Enrique O. Sánchez. The Night Ones follows five individuals as they take a late-night bus to their various jobs that require them to work during off-hours. The workers include a cleaning man for an office building, a doorman for a luxury hotel, and a woman who works in a bakery. Saturday Market looks at the bustling weekly market that is held on Saturdays in Oaxaca, Mexico. Grossman describes the different items for sale, working her way from stall to stall and offering readers both the English and the Spanish words for the various products on sale. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "the smoothly balanced text and pictures take the reader on an informative stroll."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 1994, Annie Ayres, review of Saturday Market, p. 51; November 1, 1995, Whitney Scott, review of Four Figures in Time: A Novel, p. 454; November 1, 2000, Whitney Scott, review of Unexpected Child, p. 518.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2005, review of Brian in Three Seasons, p. 871.
Lambda Book Report, December, 2000, Martha Miller, "A New Kind of Novel," p. 25.
Library Journal, November 1, 1995, Marcie Zwaik, review of Four Figures in Time, p. 106.
Publishers Weekly, February 8, 1991, Penny Kaganoff, review of Inventions in a Grieving House: A Novella, p. 53; March 8, 1991, Diane Roback and Richard Donahue, review of The Night Ones, p. 73; June 27, 1994, review of Saturday Market, p. 77; October 2, 1995, review of Four Figures in Time, p. 66; June 14, 1999, review of Very First Things to Know about Frogs, p. 72; October 16, 2000, review of Unexpected Child, p. 48; August 15, 2005, review of Brian in Three Seasons, p. 30; January 15, 2007, review of Looking for Heroes: A Novel, p. 31.
School Library Journal, July, 1991, Barbara Hutcheson, review of The Night Ones, p. 56; September, 1994, Jessie Meudell, review of Saturday Market, p. 184; July, 1995, review of Saturday Market, p. 27; September, 1999, Arwen Marshall, review of Very First Things to Know about Frogs, p. 210.
Science Books & Films, July, 1998, "Ants," p. 146; March, 2000, review of Very First Things to Know about Frogs, p. 78.
Calyx Web site,http://calyxpress.org/ (December 1, 2007), author profile.