RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewOf the novel’s many plotlines, all are secondary to the wrenching, will-they-or-won’t-they love story between Neil and Anita...their final childhood exchanges, in person and via AIM are, for all this novel’s leaps of imagination, achingly real reminders of what it was like to be an adolescent in post-9/11 America, feeling the weight of your parents’ dreams on your shoulders, but mostly just wanting to drink and make out ... The tension Sathian builds is one of teenage insecurity swelling into adulthood, until disillusion overthrows the tyranny of American perfectionism ... This intimate glimpse of millennials who are second-generation Americans shows how history repeats.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review[The] \'in between state\' is the common denominator of this collection, the theme on which the 13 essays are a variation. Certainty, the book suggests, is an illusion. Real life exists in the gaps ... In a new-New-Journalist amalgam of reportage and memoir, Kisner tethers — more elegantly in some pieces than in others — her sociological dispatches to the realm of personal experience: her on-again-off-again relationship with God, her O.C.D., her mixed ethnicity and sexuality. Reading the book, one might picture a series of oppositions — religious/secular, straight/gay, native/foreign, self/other, even living/dead — with Kisner’s focus always on the slash ... Kisner displays an impressive range of narrative modes in this book, bouncing nimbly between gravity...and comic relief, which she peppers in just when our heads are starting to spin. If she sometimes gets lost down rhetorical rabbit holes, at least she makes you want to go with her, pulling the reader along on her journey to excavate the intimate from the observed.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review... many lapses in credibility that beleaguer Reid’s plot ... an interracial love triangle whose convoluted dynamic lets some of the steam out of its worthy message ... Reid writes scenes and dialogue with a contemporary lilt that feels deliberately styled for a screen adaptation, inflected throughout with cringe-inducing \'holup holup\'s and \'ohmygod\'s, heavy-handed attempts to mimic millennial parlance. Over all, the characters’ melodrama is unwarranted; the final climactic event that Alix thinks \'felt like the plot twist of a horror movie\' is actually quite predictable. But the simple prose and story line belie a more nuanced moral hierarchy ... Out of Reid’s often cloying vernacular, then, emerge some surprisingly resonant insights into the casual racism in everyday life, especially in the America of the liberal elite.
PositiveVanity FairDespite the allusions to Hemingway’s classic, Necessary Errors doesn’t lack in originality. Crain cleverly conveys the difficulties of expat life...the novel’s erratic pace and abrupt cuts between scenes envelop the reader in the same feeling of frivolity and aimlessness that the expats experience themselves ...Despite the novel’s looming socio-political backdrop—the parting Iron Curtain and the Velvet Revolution—its story is mesmerizingly personal ... There are no momentous acts of rebellion or civil unrest in Necessary Errors, and it’s certainly not the rambling plot of the characters’ comings and goings that drive Crain’s narrative. Instead, like The Sun Also Rises, this book centers on the psychological events of each well-crafted character. But Crain takes the expat-novel paradigm a step further, finding a poignant analogy between physical displacement—even if willful, in exotic Prague—and psychological change. Jacob starts off as a boy in Necessary Errors, and Crain starts with Hemingway’s canonical masterpiece. By the end of this unpretentiously perceptive story, whose quiet surface belies a storm of activity underneath, each arrives at a distance quite far from where he began.
Fatima Farheen Mirza
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThere is the more conspicuous story about Rafiq and Layla—a Muslim-Indian immigrant couple in California—and their children ... But woven throughout this arc is a micro-narrative of a young man coming of age within that family and struggling to find his own \'place\' within it ... The result is a family epic that is textured and keenly felt, if at times meandering ... Mirza’s chosen structure...distracted from the otherwise convincing pathos of her characters’ emotional and moral plights. Indeed these plights and the themes they belie are often just as varied and frenetically sketched as the novel’s architecture. If Amar’s alienation can be identified as the book’s central tension (and given all the competing tensions, I am not 100 percent sure that it can), then the reasons behind it, the context that made it so, are muddied by the way Mirza eschews traditional plot development ... For all the novel’s deliberate disorder, however ... Mirza draws Amar’s lifelong struggle with the concept of unconditional devotion so poignantly that readers will find it exceedingly relatable.
RaveVanity FairAs our starry-eyed heroine makes her way around The Circle, the reader begins to sense Eggers’s implicit denunciation of the company culture: boundary-less communication can cause paranoia and hypersensitivity among those who attempt it, and can give the people who facilitate it utter control. The social message of the novel is clear, but Eggers expertly weaves it into an elegantly told, compulsively readable parable for the 21st century … What may be the most haunting discovery about The Circle, however, is readers’ recognition that they share the same technology-driven mentality that brings the novel’s characters to the brink of dysfunction.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewSnared by each of the collection’s tragic, comic, quirky and/or quotidian lives the reader tears through page after page and by the end feels not only bereft but ravenous, hungry for more. While it may be a classic sign of a story well told, that yearning also arises from the sense of irresolution that permeates Sneed’s fiercely meditative and unnerving short fiction ... Sneed never settles many of the questions that arise throughout the collection. Paradoxically, however, this uncertainty only serves to highlight the engaging power of her writing.