From National Book Award finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Year We Left Home, comes a family saga about three generations of women who struggle to find freedom and happiness in their small Midwestern college town.
The story’s drama, sweeping across generations, is mesmerizing, but page by page is where Thompson truly showcases her great skill: her ability to capture the nuance of individual moments, thoughts, and reactions. No one writing today is better at this ... utterly convincing and satisfying ... a rich experience that rewards the heart with every turn of the page. Thompson, a previous National Book Award finalist, is, as the expression goes, working at the height of her powers ... And what it says about living is the greatest gift Jean Thompson has given to this extraordinary novel.
With low-key yet piercing humor, caustic observations balanced with compassion, and entrancing storytelling mojo, Thompson masterfully uncovers the contrary emotions surging beneath the flat, orderly landscapes and tidy homes of the Midwest ... As storms, gardens, and trees punctuate and embody the richly reverberating family drama Thompson so astutely orchestrates, she unflinchingly examines desire and resignation, death and inheritance, while tracing women’s generational struggles for genuine independence ... invites reflection and discussion.
Who doesn’t know that frustration?—the need to flee—that highlights the remarkable achievement of the novel. While the conflicts this family endures may not have any similarities with the conflicts in your own family, the conflicts feel familiar. They may even offer insights into, say, why your father was frequently paranoid or why your sister would never listen to you. Or you’ll find yourself thinking, I used to say that to my mother, to my daughter ... There are many [passages] that will give you pause. And there’s a beauty in the sentiment, along with subtle warning.