I picked this book from NetGalley because it was for fans of Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Lorrie Moore and Curtis Sittenfeld, and I am a fan of all of them. Despite how much I love them, though, they can occasionally tip the scales with a too-precious, self-consious style. This book has received some interesting reviews – but on Goodreads I was surprised to see that it had only about a 3-star rating. I think this is because it is another of those love it or hate it kinds of books. Which will be odd then, when I say that I am on the fence about this one. I actually finished it over a week ago, but I wanted to think about what I wrote. In fairness, given the amount of books I read, if I am still thinking about it a week after I finished, it must have really moved me.
So I am going to be quick, because I am on vacation and I have a pile of books to read and listen to. I was confused and torn about the weirdness in the book’s structure. You will read in many reviews that the author puts the ending in the middle of the book, and she does, pretty much. At first I thought it was kind of cool, and then I thought it was a too-precious device, and then I was glad she did it because I was tense during some of the later parts. There are, I thought, several shoes left waiting to drop in this, and some obvious thoughts I would have liked to have had spoken aloud. For one thing, I am always amazed, in real life and in books, when a person has an affair with a married person, convinces them to leave their spouse, and then is stunned when they cheat again on them. Has this concept not occurred to them? There was not a lot mentioned along this vein, so I was left mulling the irony to myself. Then again, maybe the author thought this was obvious enough. I felt, at times, traumatized by this book, and for some things I needed a closure that I never got. But honestly, it was so beautifully written and filled with heartache that I was left more than a little bit in awe of this debut novel.