I am guessing, based on some of the reviews I’ve seen of this novel online, that you are either a fan of Anne Tyler or you’re not, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in between. I would count myself a fan, though apparently this is the first new title of hers I’ve read since joining Goodreads / Booklikes a couple of years ago.
In any case, this is a typical Tyler novel, a gentle read about family adjusting to loss and aging, and nostalgic for the events that brought them to that point. According to the publisher’s description, “The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness.” This sounds great in theory, but I really don’t think it is an accurate description of the book. For one thing, their ordinary dysfunctions were what appealed to me most — and their differences, which made them individuals, were not always enviable. Despite their differences, or maybe because of them, Tyler has produced a poignant, nuanced work that weaves together generations, creating characters that live and breathe, endure tragedies and celebrate triumphs. She returns to her beloved Baltimore, and the setting is as much a character in this book as any of the Whitshank clan. There is no overarching drama or plot twists here, but there are tears, disappointments, thoughtless words and plenty of laughter. So yes, a lot like life, only maybe a teensy bit better with such a pretty cover.