...the deepest and most dramatic of Zigman’s six novels, is a profound reflection on her upbringing ... Showcasing Zigman’s emotional range, Small World is spiced by the gravity of its real-life provenance. The novel is as poignant as it is funny, as thought-provoking as it is witty, and searingly relatable.
Zigman weaves incisive, revealing glimpses into Joyce and Lydia’s early family life, their shared childhood that included both benign and active neglect ... This is no pity party, however. Zigman is terrific at melding heartbreaking situations with humorous, evocative details without once veering off into saccharine sentimentality. The Mellishman sisters’ story is alive with vibrant details ... In a tale that’s partly about fraught and ruptured relationships, Zigman’s ability to elicit the transformative magic that happens when people find true connection with others makes these pages glow.
Zigman's tenderly told novel is a realistic rendering of what it's like to care for and love a disabled child, and the toll that love takes on parents and siblings. It's also about the bonds that sisters share and how, in the case of the Mellishmans, unresolved grief nearly breaks them...[but] laced with the promise of a brighter future.
A tender story of two sisters who, both in midlife and both recently divorced, move in together. . . A moving story about the power of family secrets, sisterhood, and memory. Readers of authors such as Jodi Picoult, Barbara Kingsolver, or Kristin Hannah will be affected by Zigman’s skillful and sensitive chronicling of a sisterhood simultaneously affected by the past and finding a new future.
Among the pleasures of Laura Zigman's Small World is its implicit defiance: it's a novel revolving around two middle-aged sisters who have recently been left by their husbands, and yet these women are utterly disinterested in finding new men or in fretting over the ones who discarded them. What preoccupies the sisters Mellishman is their family history--a bramble of secrets, hurts and other mainstays of the all-absorbing kin novel ... Small World's abundant humor includes light parody of modern progressivism. Zigman has a tendency to spell things out, but it's balanced by the intermittent inclusion of prose poems that Joyce creates by inserting line breaks in posts she reads on a neighborhood app.
Zigman, who excels at depicting the emotional push and pull of sibling relationships, examines the conflicts and grief that play out in a family dealing with a disabled child with compassion and honesty. Yet she never loses her sharp sense of humor, as evidenced by the hilarious ongoing war between Joyce and her new upstairs neighbors ... Zigman doesn’t shy away from discussing the hardships the Mellishmans faced, but she also highlights small moments of wonder and joy that illuminate the sisters’ shared path. The world might feel small, Joyce learns, but the power of hope always looms large. A compassionate, often funny examination of shared family grief and love.