PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewDuckworth, a soldier in her soul, makes no real effort at poetry or ornate excavations of the self; and yet, she has collected enough feats worthy of record to fill at least one strong memoir, a book whose contents are far more gripping, gritty and original than its bromide of a title might suggest ... the book’s most significant failing might be that she has lived through so much that she seems unable to recognize or explore the extraordinary nature of later chapters of her life ... Duckworth reported out facts of that day she previously had not known, and she spares no detail in her dispassionate recounting of the gory clumsiness that marks true crisis. The leavening heroics she also recounts are what make those passages bearable — just ... Having survived so many extremes of human experience, Duckworth seems to brush over details of her life that others might find remarkable, such as the two terms she spent as a member of the House of Representatives in the years following her recovery. We hear about the challenges of dealing with fertility issues and child-rearing while campaigning and serving in the Senate; but Duckworth makes remarkably little of how unusual it is for any woman to have a child, as she did, at age 50, much less one who has her particular history and her recurring chronic pain ... The sheer details of her life are so compelling — so, yes, inspirational — that anyone less plain-spoken might risk veering into sanctimony or sap. If Duckworth’s political career ever comes to an end, she could make a killing as the world’s most matter-of-fact motivational speaker.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... delightful ... Like the best of those books on language, Schine’s novels — this is her 11th — are often as witty as they are erudite ... Schine takes her readers on deep philosophical dives but resurfaces with craft and humor; her tone is amused and amusing ... How do two people who start out, essentially, as clones, end up believing themselves to be so different? The pleasure of this novel lies in the answers Schine provides through her storytelling, the accretion of moments of chance and perspective that make the various resolutions seem almost inevitable ... The novel’s other luxury is the permission Schine gives herself to revel in language itself ... For better or worse, the moving parts of The Grammarians don’t snap together with the same satisfying click that they do in some of Schine’s earlier novels. The supporting characters feel more peripheral, although that may be formally appropriate for a novel that tries to capture the insularity of identical twins ... What holds The Grammarians aloft, ultimately, is its riveting love story — not the tale of the twins or their respective marriages but of their deep bond with language.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"In the lives of Sittenfeld’s characters, the lusts and disappointments of youth loom large well into middle age, as insistent as a gang of loud, showy teenagers taking up all the oxygen in the room ... These storytellers are, for the most part, a privileged, educated lot. Their trials, in the grand scheme of things, are manageable enough that they allow easily for comedy, which Sittenfeld is a pro at delivering in the details ... But Sittenfeld doesn’t shy away from poking at the soft spots of a person’s psyche, the painful longings for something exquisite to cut through the ennui of even the most comfortable lives.\
MixedThe New York Times Book Review[A Mother's Reckoning] reads as if she had written it under oath, while trying to answer, honestly and completely, an urgent question: What could a parent have done to prevent this tragedy? ... This is writing as action, bursting from a life so choked by circumstance that she could express that sentiment only from within the safety of a 300-page book.