By Nathan Hill
What’s it about?
Samuel is abandoned in childhood by his mother, Faye, and never quite gets over it. This story flashes from the present day, back to 1968 Chicago where we learn more about what may have prompted Faye’s decision to leave her family.
What did it make me think about?
This novel is deeply ambitious. I can see why it was so well reviewed. The writing is thoughtful and the book explores the many ways our world is changing and how these changes are affecting the millennial generation. A subject I find fascinating. However I just didn’t really love this book. I did not find the characters that compelling. Maybe it was my mood.
Should I read it?
This bookseems like a Man-Booker award winner. I assume it will win lots of awards- and deservedly should. It is also really timely- with it’s look back at the disenchanted generation of the 60’s. It is absolutely worth reading (see the beautiful quote below), but somehow it still wasn’t a favorite of mine. I felt like it touched my mind, but left my heart a little cold.
“For Alice, the small true part of her was that she wanted something that deserved her faith and devotion. When she was young, she saw families retreat into their homes and ignore the greater problems of the world and she hated them: bourgeois cogs in the machine, unthinking sheeplike masses, selfish bastards who couldn’t see beyond their own property lines. Their souls, she thought, must have been small and shrunken things.
But then she grew up and bought a house and found a lover and got some dogs and stewarded her land and tried to fill her home with love and light and she realized her earlier error: that these things did not make you small. In fact, these things seem to enlarge her. That by choosing a few very private concerns and pouring herself into them, she had never felt so expanded. That, paradoxically, narrowing her concerns had made hermorecapable of love and generosity and empathy and, yes, even peace and justice. It was the difference between loving something out of duty–because the movement required it of you–and loving something you actually loved. Love – real, genuine, unasked- for love– made room for more of itself, it turned out. Love, when freely given, your duplicates and multiplies.”