PositiveThe RumpusThe map, which seems innocuous enough, is an important orienting device for the narrative. Its gesture at navigational accuracy gives the novel an interactive quality that compels readers to extend Lillian’s knowledge of the city, to discover what has become of the landmarks of Lillian’s 1984 journey ... [Rooney] endow[s] her narrator with historical knowledge in a way that allows meditation on loss while also setting into relief the movement of history ... It’s not that I think Rooney should have made Lillian an anachronistically woke ally, but I do find the reckoning she receives for trying to Columbus hip-hop a bit unsatisfying.
MixedThe MillionsInnocents and Others is a novel about how intimacy works best from a distance. As is made painfully clear when Meadow coaxes Jelly into the light, direct encounter tends to dissolve what remains of the means of connection. Jelly is all but ruined, China-Girled by Meadow’s movie. This coming together of the novel’s two plots is the least compelling aspect of Innocents and Others. Its nod to narrative unity is forced, but the best part about the nod is how convincingly it suggests that we were all better off talking to each other in the dark.