MixedThe Washington PostI had a problem with this otherwise charming, witty book that never seemed to occur to the author. A mother’s child has been stolen, kidnapped. He’s missing; he may be dead. Doesn’t this horror transcend every other consideration in this story? Looked at more closely, is Lucy a bookish bachelorette or a creepy sociopath? A kid is more important than a book, no matter how nasty the child or how beautiful the book. But I don’t think that’s what the author is saying, sadly enough.
PositiveThe Washington PostHere are eight wonderful stories – no, seven great stories and one good one. All seem at first to be about women, but they're about being human – how that condition cradles us, limits us. Most of them begin in the relatively obscure past and proceed slowly and carefully into what we might call the present … None of these stories is particularly original. There's more than a hint of Kay Boyle in ‘Passion,’ in which a young girl runs off for a few hours with a man both drunk and married, more than a hint of William Goldman in ‘Tricks,’ in which another young girl meets someone who might be the improbable man of her dreams. And ‘Trespasses,’ about the follies of a pair of old and desperately stupid hippie parents, could have been written by anyone in this literary generation. But it ain't what Munro does, to paraphrase the old song. It's the way that she does it.
RaveThe Washington PostIf you're going to read Winter's Bone, it's best to plan on reading it twice –– once to get the feel of the thing and once to figure out who is who, who's got the power here and what opaque and arcane rules hold this world together ... In the hands of a conventionally educated urban author, these characterizations would seem intolerably condescending and elitist...not taking cheap shots; he's reporting life as he sees it ... The action plays out like an old-fashioned, hard-boiled novel ... Winter's Bone revolves around questions of grit, courage, authenticity, a willingness to face the pure physical unpleasantness of the way things are ... Woodrell simply shows us a world, the raw meat of it. If we can't stomach his reality, it's our problem, not his.
Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
RaveThe Washington PostHalf the Sky is either one of the most important books I have ever reviewed, or it is reportage about a will-o'-the-wisp movement destined to end up in the footnotes of history ... This book isn't a sermon, and neither is this review. These Pulitzer Prize-winning authors see the treatment of women in developing countries as the great story of this century, a moral issue, sure, but also as an economic one ...authors handle this grim material by telling us just a handful of horrible stories at a time, based on their own extensive interviews ... These stories are electrifying and have the effect of breaking down this enormous problem into segments the reader can focus on. Suddenly, these horrendous problems begin to seem solvable ...a call to arms, a call for help, a call for contributions, but also a call for volunteers.
PositiveThe Washington Post100 pages in, this women’s novel turns into a murder mystery. The man whom Rachel most suspects of killing her daughter is a balding PE teacher at the school … The question turns out to be how various crimes — from murder to bad manners to adultery and back again — can be recognized and suitably punished. The plot here swings along, with the details of women’s lives chronicled down to the last broken appliance and misunderstood comment. And murder, too.