by Tayari Jones
From the opening line, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” to the closing, Jones hooked me with this wonderful, heartbreaking, honest novel. Within 20 pages, Jones has laid the characters’ baggage at the reader’s feet; but instead of stagnating, the narrative just continues to dig deeper into the themes of love, loyalty, friendship and betrayal.
I let go of the breath I didn’t know I was holding. This was what it was like to have a friend, someone who knew exactly what you were and didn’t blame you for it.” Each teenage girl’s voice is written beautifully, getting to the heart of those years. Each girl is searching for her place, identity and family — it’s just more complicated because they share a father.
Without ever choosing sides, Jones allows her story to do the talking. I was left aching for both girls and unsure if the ending is how I would have written it, just what I look for in a great book.
by Ann Patchett
I treasure the beauty in Patchett’s writing.
In an instant the veil of insects lifted and Marina saw nothing as she had never seen nothing before. It was as if God Himself had turned out all the lights, every last one, and left them in the gaping darkness of His abandonment.”
Add to this beauty the fact that Patchett crafts a wonderful story about science, anthropology, reproduction and loss, and it equals a true winner. I was lost in the Amazon, conflicted and drawn to possibility right along with the main character Marina.
In this life we love who we love. There were some stories in which facts were irrelevant.”
I was slightly disappointed in the book’s last 50 pages, which come so fast and so improbably, that I was drawn out of the story. Still, I loved this book.
If you like Jennifer Weiner’s other books, you’ll like this one too. She doesn’t deviate from her tried and true formula of likable women struggling to shed their past skins. In this case, it’s four women connected by a Philadelphia fertility clinic. I was mildly surprised by some of the plot’s turning points, but by the end I was so frustrated by the unrealistic way it came together that I literally dropped the book. Weiner is such a talented writer and I don’t blame her for sticking with a formula that has proved successful, but wouldn’t it be great if she would stretch herself (and us, her readers) beyond our comfort zones?