Top critical review
Formulaic treatment of an important subject
Reviewed in Australia on 7 October 2021
Got to 20% and still wasn’t invested. Skipped ahead to see if it got better. Enough to see that the heroine had married a domestically violent man just like her mother did. The other person her father beat up was the homeless boy her 15 yo self was helping. It’s true that family dynamics often play out these kinds of repetitions. But this story doesn’t reach out into humanity: there’s something bleakly, soullessly narcissistic about it as can be the case with a first person narrative. The author is obviously intelligent and can write but the whole story feels spiritually and psychologically cramped. Trite even. I’ve turned to Jonathan Franzen’s new book with relief. There, wondrous humanity rolls out its carpets in all their glory and vainglory. Thousands will disagree no doubt: it is a best seller and there’s usually a good reason why books get into that category. This is a subject that needs a lot more nuance, depth and realism. Wisdom.