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Publisher's Summary

A poignant memoir about one intrepid, unforgettable girl and her extraordinary childhood in 1950s small-town America

Welcome to the childhood of Catherine McClure Gildiner. It is the middle of the 1950s in Lewiston, New York, a small and sleepy American town very near Niagara Falls. No one is divorced. Mothers wear high heels to the beauty salon and children pop Pez candy and swing from vines over a local gorge. But at the tender age of four, it becomes clear to her Cathy's parents that their rambunctious daughter is no ordinary child and they soon put her "to work" at her father's pharmacy. Already able to read road maps, she accompanies Roy the deliveryman on his routes. In memories that are by turns hilarious and deeply moving, she shares some of her more fantastic deliveries-sleeping pills to Marilyn Monroe (in town filming Niagara), sedatives to Mad Bear, a violent Tuscarora chief, and fungus cream to Warty, the gentle, and painfully lonely operator of the town dump.

Shortlisted for Canada's prestigious Trillium Award, Too Close to the Falls is sure to delight fans of smart, honest, and poignant childhood memoirs such as Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life and Mary Karr's The Liars' Club. It is a beautiful portrait of a life so full it is bursting, written through the innocent, yet incredibly worldly eyes of a child.

©1999, 2009 ECW Pres. First chapter of After the Falls copyright Knopf Canada, 2009 (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Too Close to the Falls

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Brilliant and funny and touching.

This book hit all the right notes and the narration was spot on. Honestly, could not have been better.

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What a tough little cookie

This little girl was raised by the village of people she lived and worked with. Exposed to such a wide variety of unwitting mentors who either taught her something positive, or showed her in one way or another-which way not to go.
With parents who loved and doted on her in their own unique ways,her independent spirit was somehow nurtured, or at least encouraged. Or perhaps it was a mix of independence and survival.
Either way, it was amazing to hear about how resilient this child was no matter what she could not unsee or hear-and choose to be a successful and hopefully whole and happy adult.

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Love this book!

What did you love best about Too Close to the Falls?

The characters are great and the perspective is as well! I grew up not too far away from Niagara Falls so am familiar with the landscape and culture. Fun, witty book that was well worded!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Katherine, I loved to hear how she thought and how she embraced being herself. Fearless, fun character!

Which character – as performed by Allyson Johnson – was your favorite?

I also enjoyed Roy and Sister Agnes. The narration was fun!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wanted to! I had to listen in spurts because of my schedule, but I was so excited every time I got to press play.

Any additional comments?

The author did a great job telling her story. The characters are very well written!

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one of my all-,time favorite books

the author is a wonderful story teller, and has unusual and fascinating material to work with in this memoir. being from western NY and knowing Lewiston well just adds to the charm. she captures characters vividly. this needs to be a movie, and Morgan Freeman needs to play Roy!

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Interesting story, narration was acceptable

However I just can't believe that this is nonfiction. Good story and fair character development but very hard to imagine some of the fantastic scenarios. For example, how does an individual remember back and forth dialogue from when they were 4 years of age? It was good reading but not in the 'wow that really happened to someone memoir genre way' because much of it seemed imagined. If you take it with a grain of salt, you may enjoy the 'stories', the author's writing style is good and I especially enjoyed the character of Roy.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-17-21

The girl has spirit !

This memoir will transport you into 1950s small town America. Catherine has a remarkable memory and she’s delightfully candid and honest. I would love to know how life turned out for her. There are many parallels with “The Road from Coorain” by Jill Ker Conway. Highly recommended.