The honest truth is that I found Natasha grating, and frequently frustrating, especially her repeated insistence on her pre-childbirth hotness and her incredulity about motherhood. (She’s an actor, and dramatic, I had to keep reminding myself.) It was easier to love Larissa’s voice. Even in the grimmest circumstances, Larissa is a droll and hilarious narrator, able to blend the funny and the heartbreaking beautifully together. Yet, in the end, each narrative complements the other. Though Larissa’s and Natasha’s stories are wildly different, they share an irreverence and a longing for something more, and they echo each other in their explorations of obligation and desire, of envy and disappointment, of art and contentment, and the possible incompatibility of the two ... With Something Unbelievable, Kuznetsova movingly makes a case for the significance of the everyday. The book, Kuznetsova’s second, is particularly poignant, especially during our present pandemic. It calls attention to the fact that human beings living through extraordinary circumstances are still, well, human beings: They hold grudges, they’re petty and they fall in love with the wrong people, whether they’re fleeing a war or staying at home with a baby. The book argues that the mundane moments are what make a life ... seems to say that the everyday matters — how unspectacular moments can transcend their confines, how miraculous the ordinary can be.
... laugh-out-loud funny ... Kuznetsova captures how stories are not the only things shared between generations ... continues the crescendo of Kuznetsova’s vibrant style ... Kuznetsova’s strengths lie in her ability to weave real-life cruelty and kindness into her works. She discusses topics like war, death, sex, and the grimy reality of parenthood with the same unflinching ease as one would discuss going to the grocery store ... Her dialogue is sharp, filled with unrelenting dark humor as both main characters are willing to take a bite out of anyone who comes in their way, including themselves. Beneath the near tactless honesty, both characters are fueled by compassion, moved by their love for life and the people in it. Both women’s love can be likened to a kiss with a fist ... More than anything, Kuznetsova captures the exhaustion of being overly self-aware and disillusioned while also feeling lost and oblivious to the world in front of you ... I left the final page of Something Unbelievable thoroughly entranced.
In shifting first-person narratives in which they analyze each other with assumptions that may or may not be accurate, Natasha and Larissa build a portrait of family love in all its variations ... Most compelling when history intersects with the emotions of women figuring out their lives today.
Larissa, a cigarette-smoking widow, is colorfully drawn, though her blunt, mean-spirited dialogue often reduces her to a cliché ... Clear parallels between Larissa’s adolescent crushes and Natasha’s marriage are made unnecessarily explicit, as when Natasha asks if Larissa regrets her choice of whom to marry. While the characters can be lively, there’s not enough to hold readers’ interest.