The Student is a portrait of a life in two snapshots.
It's 1957 and Miriam Moscowitz is starting her final year of university with unwavering ambition. She is a serious and passionate student of literature who studies hard, dates a young Jewish man with a good job, and is the apple of her father's eye and the worry of her mother's. But then, in a single moment, her dreams crumble around her. Unsure of how to break a path for herself, she begins a reckless affair with an American student obsessed with the civil rights clashes in the south. When the young man abandons her to join the movement back home, Miriam gets on a bus to follow him, no longer sure of anything in her life.
Forty-eight years later, Miriam is the about to witness her son's wedding (a newly-legal, same-sex marriage). She climbs the stairs to her study to look at a book she had carried with her on a bus to Detroit. She reads the marginalia written in her young, minuscule handwriting. It is familiar and strange, embarrassing and exhilarating, and she wonders what the young person who had written all these words almost half a century ago had to do with the old woman who read them now.
The Student is a compassionate and compelling work of fiction that brings together two pivotal times in history. With its innovative structure, masterful prose, and intelligently crafted characters, this book illustrates how we are shaped by - and can eventually overcome - the constraints of the times we occupy.
"Toronto author Cary Fagan's latest novel, The Student, seems like one of his best. It has the agreeable quality of being both simple and deep, with prose as clear as a smooth pond whose waters go to impressive depths." -Bill Gladstone, Canadian Jewish News
"It is the richness of his characters, his insistence on revealing their full humanity, that resonates from one generation to the next. The truth of their struggles, the pain of their suffering, their resistance to -- and activism in shaping -- the society and history pressing in around them.Fagan has created an accurate portrait of two key moments in history. Even those of us who weren't there can feel it." -Kevin Keystone, Literary Review of Canada
"In The Student, Cary Fagan has not only crafted a vivid portrait of a woman in her youth and old age, but also an intriguing meditation on what changes and what remains the same over time." - Elyse Friedman
"Cary Fagan's brilliant and loveable female heroine Miriam Moscovitch is so real she seems to live and breathe the same air as her readers." --Susan Swan
"A marvel of compression, The Student is a spirited gem of a novel. Cary Fagan captures with wisdom and intimacy the passions that sustain and shape individuals into their best selves. Exploring Toronto's fledgling diversity of the 1950s and its blossoming in the aughts, he reveals how, even as communities change, our need for the models preserved in literature does not. I loved this book!" --Carol Bruneau