This is a terrible book. I sped through 600 pages out of curiosity, looking to articulate exactly why I hated it.
Long-winded, interminable descriptions. The boy needs an editor. Someone to shape this lumpy sack of clay into a slenderized version that has the necessary tension that makes us want to turn the pages.
Cardboard characters. I think I was 500 pages into the book before I met a single character I cared about, which ended up being the radical hippie, Alice.
Saccharine-induced loopy unbelievable happy endings tied with a giant red bow. What a miracle that Faye (the mother who walked out on her son) winds up at the bedside of her father (who had abandoned a separate family in Norway before having Faye). How perfect that the judge from 1968 was also the judge in charge of the 2011 case against Faye. And of course Periwinkle (Samuel’s editor) ends up being Sebastian from 1968. Perhaps the most unbelievable tie-up at the end is when Samuel asks Bethany for a place to stay for awhile in NYC and she hands over the keys to her 8 bedroom apartment.
Books like this make me mad because it showcases the downward trajectory of publishing standards. The fact that this is mentioned as a great book, and even whispered as “DFW-esque,” is a tragedy. There is nothing clever here, no good writing, only a monkey doing donuts in the empty cul-de-sac of an abandoned suburb. We clap because we’re surprised that a monkey can do this.