RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe start of Shipstead’s book [...] is thrilling and complicated, with many different threads laid out and back stories carefully and richly wrought; for the next 500-odd pages, I felt the fear I feel when a student’s work starts strong, when other novels open high — knowing that, more often than not, lofty heights can’t be sustained. But Great Circle starts high and maintains altitude. One might say it soars ... Great Circle can sometimes feel a bit baggy, but that seems to be Shipstead’s intention. This is a book explicitly invested in sweep ... this far-ranging breadth is as much the project of this novel as any of these individual lives — including all the ways each life exists within the context of so many others, the way the natural world informs and forms us, all the ways we are still only and particularly ourselves ... Great Circle grasps for and ultimately reaches something extraordinary ... In that, Great Circle is consistently, often breathtakingly, sound.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe term \'unlikable\' has become a catchall in conversations about a certain type of female character. It’s been used as a pejorative, but also as a challenge: Books declare that they’re going to accomplish something complicated and exciting by daring to present a female character who is layered, flawed, sometimes dangerous. Susie Yang’s White Ivy asserts itself early as a novel invested in building its main character in this vein. \'Ivy Lin was a thief but you would never know it to look at her,\' the first sentence declares ... This sounds like a thrilling concept, but Ivy’s thievery is largely irrelevant to the story’s first 200 pages ... White Ivy is chock-full of compelling, exciting ideas. What it does not quite do is give the reader access to the experiences that might portray those ideas effectively in the context of a narrative. We’re not given the particular opportunity that fiction can make space for to reconsider them anew.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewOften, in great fiction, the characters’ responses and interactions can prove more interesting than the plot itself. Everything Here Is Under Control—the Y.A. author’s adult debut—is filled with compelling characters, but the first half of the novel fails to elevate them over the events they partake in. There is a thinness to the first 100 or so pages that arises from the book’s desire to continue to withhold a Major Secret; as a result, this part feels flatter and less engaging than the second half, which is so full of texture and authentic human ambivalence that it more fully serves the characters that Adrian has so deftly drawn.
PositiveThe Millions\"I also felt like the book was too long, but on purpose, as if Heti is performing for us what it felt like for this woman, thinking the same thing over and over again, having the same types of dreams, the same types of fights with her partner, the same kind of conciliatory sex. This feels like part of her project. If this is a book about (not) motherhood, it is also, a book about the female body and its limits and its strength. It is also an intense, sometimes maddening, performance of female ambivalence ... part of Heti’s project seems to be to push the limits of the Female, to upend the necessity of Mother, to suggest whole worlds that might exist beyond the making of other smaller versions of ourselves. But what her book also does is remind us of the limits, both of our bodies and our thoughts. For all her abstract acrobatics, this feels like a book about the complicated way Heti’s character both does and does not love her mother; it feels like an exploration of the ways our bodies hem us in.\