Chorus shepherds seven siblings through two life-altering events—their mother's untimely death, and a shocking teenage pregnancy—that ultimately follow them through their lives as individuals and as a family
Some readers may question the book’s scope which spans half a century and includes nine points of view in less than three hundred pages. And while the novel’s non-linear structure helps one orient to the large cast of characters, three males whose names all begin with the letter J (Jim, John, and Jack) can initially be confusing. However, the characters quickly come to life because of their responses to the unique situations they find themselves in ... it’s true the reader will finish the novel with a limited understanding of each character, but like a chorus of voices, it is not the individual voice one seeks, but the sound of the wondrous whole ... While some could dismiss Chorus as tackling more than its page count allows, or even viewing it as a novel-in-stories, doing so misses out on the beauty of this book. Each story-like chapter is so poignant — many with the feel of an Alice Munro story — it’s easy to fall under Kauffman’s spell. But when, after finishing the novel and viewing it in its entirety, the precision and care that went into plotting is clear ... a near-perfect novel, reminding us that even as our losses magnify our flaws, recovery is possible when we have people who love us.
... through this examination of a family as a collection of individuals, Chorus reveals how ultimately unknowable we are to each other, that often those who have known us the longest and at our most vulnerable are also those who overlook what they don’t want to see, just as we often overlook those parts of ourselves ... reveals the layers of self and its varied constructions, ultimately creating an honest, multi-layered portrait of a family ... I think Kauffman’s ending speaks to the hopefulness that can reside within families, the unique ability we have as siblings and sons and daughters to at least attempt a return to simpler times of loving and forgiveness.
Lovely ... Readable and compelling chapters move around in time...and in perspective ... The novel’s arrangement feels meaningful as turning-point moments in the siblings’ lives take center stage, one after the other ... As the title invites us to consider, perhaps the most profound meaning is not taken from a singular experience but from the collective of family members’ voices. Kauffman’s writing style renders complex dynamics in simple, impactful language and scenes.