I think I was all of 30 pages into "A Gate at the Stairs" when I knew I was going to love the novel. "Gate" is a joy to read, with it's narrator, Tassie Keltjin, bringing a playful, insouciant (but hardy uninformed) wit to her initial years at college. Lorrie Moore captures everything that is clever about early adulthood: the joy of discovery, the playfulness with identity, and eagerness to explore and experience with an almost unnatural confidence and optimism. Keltjin tells her tale with a clear but unspoiled look backward through time, but in a manner that never sours the moment, or ruins the sense that we are experiencing post-9/11 college life alongside Tassie, instead of askance.When Tassie is formally integrated into the transplanted family whose daughter she is caretaker for, the more maturing lessons of adulthood arrive, and the tone becomes more serious. Here too Lorrie Moore avoids weighing the novel with anything more than it needs: the lessons are sharp but human, and judgment is never passed so much as the lesson feels shared. Without spoiling anything of the story, you should know the scenes set are original, unpredicted, and wholeheartedly memorable.A brilliant novel, worth every word.