Cover image for Nina : adolescence
Nina : adolescence
Hassinger, Amy, 1972-
Personal Author:
BlueHen trade paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : BlueHen Books, 2004.

Physical Description:
304 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



At the center of an attic studio littered with paints and portraits stands fifteen-year-old Nina, nude. A canvas separates her from her mother, who perches on a stool, paintbrush in hand. In a desperate attempt to coax her mother out of her emotional seclusion, Nina has offered herself up as a model. The painting, Nina: Adolescence, will mark her mother's triumphant return to the Boston art world and form the centerpiece of a gallery show. But the exposure makes Nina uneasy, and her father begins to protest with increasing vehemence. The family starts to come apart, sending Nina into a tailspin as she recklessly attempts to free herself from a disintegrating household and the confines of someone else's fame. With the tension reaching a breaking point, Nina finds that the gift she gave to her mother is rapidly becoming a sacrifice and could very well serve to be the cause of her

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

After her younger brother drowned, Nina tried to pull her artist mother, Marian, out of her grief by offering to pose for a painting. Marian gradually became obsessed with chronicling Nina's emerging adolescent body in a series of nude portraits, and the paintings have become a success, earning Marian the notoriety she's yearned for. Now, at 15, Nina is embarrassed that her changing body is on view to the public. "They're seeing art, not porn," insists her mother, but Nina's father worries about "sexual predators." Hassinger's first novel explores these two provocative viewpoints through the intimate story of a family's unraveling. Nina is thrilled and disturbed by Leo, a thirtysomething art critic, and even after she learns about his secret history with her mother, Nina is coaxed into an affair with him. Hassinger makes Nina's loss of innocence and plunge into self-destruction chillingly believable. Her graceful, observant prose beautifully captures Nina's inner world--her guilt, yearning, anger, desire, and joy--while ruthlessly skewering the narcissism of ambitious adults. An unsettling and acutely sensitive debut. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

First-time author Hassinger excels at describing the title character's "limited and limiting" adolescent mind, but stage and screen actress Barron (Guiding Light; Amy Rules) truly brings this troubled character to life in this eerily seductive narrative. Told from the perspective of Nina Begley, who was with her younger brother when he drowned, the novel tracks the unraveling of a family. After the accident, Nina's father turns to drink and her artist mother, Marion, shutters herself in her room. To draw her mother out, Nina offers to pose for a painting and doesn't even balk when Marion asks her to pose nude. Hassinger perfectly captures the guilt and thirst for affection that compels Nina to pose nude and, eventually, to attend an art exhibit featuring her own adolescent body. Barron's vocal talents shine here, as well. Though she narrates the story in soft, muted tones, her voice takes on all the uncertainty and rebelliousness of youth when teenage Nina strikes back at her narcissistic mother by having a secret affair with Marion's 30-something ex-beau. All in all, Barron's skilled, sensitive telling nicely compliments Barron's expressive prose, making this an exceptional audio adaptation. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

For Nina, posing nude for her painter mother means a chance for them to grow closer after the accidental drowning of her four-year-old brother. Chronicling her daughter's emergence from girl to woman provides Marion with a way out of her depression and the joy of rediscovering her artistic talent. But at 15 Nina is embarrassed to have outsiders see her changing body. As a rebellious teenager, Nina allows herself to be photographed nude by her mother's former lover, a situation leading to sex and a downward spiral for Nina as she flirts with anorexia and loses interest in her consuming passion, dancing. A first-time novelist, Hassinger captures Nina's troubled life in a way that speaks to both teens and parents. This young woman grows up quickly as she deals with her dysfunctional family and learns that she lacks the experience to handle the attention she receives from older men. Mia Barron's reading adds to the story's realism as she expresses Nina's uncertainty and rebellion, even going so far as to end her sentences with the questioning, upward lilt of adolescent speech. The tape quality is excellent. Recommended for large public libraries.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.