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1st March
2010
written by Steph

My review for the March issue of BookPage is now online and can be read here!  This month I covered the third novel by Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Peter Hedges.  The story deals with a youngish couple struggling to raise a family in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, all while trying to fulfill their own goals and dreams and keep their relationship on solid ground.  Naturally, something’s gotta give, but I’ll leave it up to you to read and find out what that thing is. The book reminded me a lot of Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road in terms of its scope and the issues it deals with, but the tone could not have been more different.  While I found Yates’s novel unrelentingly sad and pessimistic, I appreciated the light touch Hedges uses here, and his witty sense of humor was necessary to counteract some of the rather dark and grim moments.  Rather than feeling this novel dragged me down, I instead read it compulsively, finishing it in a single day and pretty much in one sitting.  I can’t remember the last time I did that with a book, so that should tell you something about how addictive this book is.  It was kind of like sitting down to eat a big bag of M&Ms (or whatever your candy of choice is), but without feeling you’ve ODed on sugar afterwards.  In some ways this book is brain candy, but it's still got some vitamins and is plenty good for you. Anyway, I enjoyed the novel a good deal and highly recommend it especially if family melodramas are your thing.  Check out my official review if you’re interested in more coherent thoughts! If I were reviewing this (FREE) book on the site, I would have given it a 4 out of 5.

7 Comments

  1. 03/01/2010

    I have a couple of friends who live in Brooklyn Heights, so I think this would be fun to read, thanks!

  2. 03/01/2010

    Family melodrama…I’m in!

  3. 03/01/2010

    I read both of your reviews on this one, and have to conclude that this is definitely the book for me. I like that it is reminiscent of Revolutionary Road, yet it is less emotionally harsh and it sounds like it has the kind of plot that would suck me in, like it did you. Both of your reviews were really very good, and I will be on the lookout for this book. It will probably be a great read for me. Thanks!!

  4. I haven’t heard of this book before, but I love the description of it being like brain candy. I haven’t read Revolutionary Road, but have a copy here – I think I’ll keep an eye out for this one too.

  5. 03/02/2010

    I can see how his sense of humour would make a huge difference. I’m definitely not averse to sad books, but sometimes the ones that read like their only point is “life sucks and then we die” can be frustrating.

  6. 03/02/2010

    @ Lenore: I love reading books that are set in places I know well (or that I’ve at least traveled to)! I’ve never been to Brooklyn, but I think Hedges captures the area pretty well; I felt like I was there.
     
    @ Kathleen: Really, who doesn’t love family melodrama (so long as it’s not their own!)? 😉
     
    @ zibilee: I do think you would enjoy this one quite a bit given your reading tastes. It’s a fun read, even if it is sobering at time.
     
    @ Jackie: In many ways I think I enjoyed this one more then Rev Road, simply because it wasn’t so bruising to me emotionally to read it. Also, it’s a book that flows really well and so you just want to keep reading it!
     
    @ Nymeth: There are tons of books that make me super depress that I really like, but I think it’s quite challenging for an author to take difficult subjects and inject levity into them that feels appropriate and true to life and not like ill-placed comic relief. It certainly makes this book easier to handle and I appreciated Hedges’ ability to realize that even in the darkest moments, there’s generally still something that can bring a smile to our faces.

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