the next good book

The Rachel Incident

By Carolyn O'Donoghue

8/10
(8/10)

289 pages

What’s it about?

Rachel is creeping into middle age when she decides to take a look back at her life in Cork, Ireland in 2009- and then decides to write about it. She was 21-years-old back then and struggling to work and finish college.  James was a new employee at the bookshop where she worked and they quickly became friends and then flatmates.  This is the story of that year.

What did it make me think about?

Relationships and the perspective that time brings.

Should I read it?

I seem to be enjoying a lot of Irish writers lately….  This book just grew on me.  It is not really plot-driven and none of the characters are solidly good people- but they are so real (perhaps messed-up at times) that you want to know what is going to happen to them.  My favorite character by far is Carey who comes in and out of the story as Rachel’s sometime boyfriend.  The book focuses on the friendship between James and Rachel who are neither one always likable.  Their friendship is complicated, intense, and really interesting.  In James, I was relieved to not find a stereotypical “gay best friend”.  James was a fully drawn character with his own hopes, dreams, and selfishness. That he was queer was essential to the story- and also not really what the story was about.  This seems in all its messiness like a friendship that mattered to both Rachel and James- and by the end of the book it mattered to me as well. Although this story drags in the middle, it picks back up and I was happy to read the last 30 pages and see how time has treated Rachel and James.  Read this one.

Quote-

“I don’t know who I was trying to impress.  I did not want a boyfriend; I did want romance.  I wanted passion; I did not want to be someone who was known as easy.  I was desperate to be touched; I was terrified of being ruined.”

What’s it about?

Rachel is creeping into middle age when she decides to take a look back at her life in Cork, Ireland in 2009- and then decides to write about it. She was 21-years-old back then and struggling to work and finish college.  James was a new employee at the bookshop where she worked and they quickly became friends and then flatmates.  This is the story of that year.

What did it make me think about?

Relationships and the perspective that time brings.

Should I read it?

I seem to be enjoying a lot of Irish writers lately….  This book just grew on me.  It is not really plot-driven and none of the characters are solidly good people- but they are so real (perhaps messed-up at times) that you want to know what is going to happen to them.  My favorite character by far is Carey who comes in and out of the story as Rachel’s sometime boyfriend.  The book focuses on the friendship between James and Rachel who are neither one always likable.  Their friendship is complicated, intense, and really interesting.  In James, I was relieved to not find a stereotypical “gay best friend”.  James was a fully drawn character with his own hopes, dreams, and selfishness. That he was queer was essential to the story- and also not really what the story was about.  This seems in all its messiness like a friendship that mattered to both Rachel and James- and by the end of the book it mattered to me as well. Although this story drags in the middle, it picks back up and I was happy to read the last 30 pages and see how time has treated Rachel and James.  Read this one.

Quote-

“I don’t know who I was trying to impress.  I did not want a boyfriend; I did want romance.  I wanted passion; I did not want to be someone who was known as easy.  I was desperate to be touched; I was terrified of being ruined.”

Related books: