A minimalist masterpiece ... Simpson excavates the multiple meanings of the word 'commitment,' seemingly daring us to consider whether the state-run institutions of the past were in some ways more humane than the community-based treatment that was meant to succeed them ... She captures time and place with uncanny precision and the compression of language characteristic of a poet ... Commitment makes the case in a quiet but insistent voice that our lives do matter, even if other people think they are broken.
A cynical reader might find Julie’s selflessness too convenient; I found it inspiring and wanted to know more about her. Instead I learned a lot about Thomas Story Kirkbride, the Quaker psychiatrist who believed that airy, well-lit hospitals could have a curative effect on patients ... Simpson seems to have unlimited time and pages as she follows Walter, Lina and Donnie into adulthood ... Simpson has clearly done her research on the development of the Pacific Palisades and on the gallery scene in Manhattan in the 1980s, among many other topics, and the fruits of her labor add texture to an already hefty story ... Her language is subtle to the point of coyness, with an arm’s-length quality that’s equal parts impressive and maddening.
Manages to be both a model of the intricate network of familiar coordinates — love, money, art, work — and an intimate portrait of each individual caught, for better or worse, in its web ... The larger social, cultural and emotional strains sharply and movingly conveyed through the smaller lens of these three people ... Commitment does seem to take the great Victorian novel for a template of sorts — updated for a world where 'commitment' is forever being redefined, but love abides.
Masterful ... Starts off placidly ... In its own quiet way, Commitment is a page-turner and an emotional roller-coaster ride—all the more so if you’ve ever dealt with mentally unsound or addicted people in your immediate family.
This novel finds its heart not with any one figure but rather with the collective as Simpson moves from life to life, point of view to point of view, offering a kaleidoscopic portrait of a clan of outsiders remaking itself again and again ... She means to explore perseverance, the ability to survive. And not just to survive, but also to thrive, as the three siblings grow into their adult selves.
Well-drawn ... Simpson foregoes surprises or dramatic turns, drawing readers instead with deep and tender considerations of her characters, as they’re forced to learn hard truths while still in the prime of their youths. Fans of family chronicles will not be disappointed.