... [a] breathtaking new novel, Isadora. It's a stunning meditation on art and grief by one of America's most exciting young writers ... The novel concludes with an ending so mind-bogglingly sad, it would have seemed unnecessary and unreal if it hadn't actually happened. But Gray handles it beautifully — she doesn't insulate her readers from the cruelties of grief, but she's never exploitative and she never uses cheap pathos ... Gray is a gutsy, utterly original writer, and this is the finest work she's done so far. Isadora is a masterful portrait of one of America's greatest artists, and it's also a beautiful reflection on what it means to be suffocated by grief, but not quite willing to give up.
...a great novel of character: the story of a real woman’s real grief and survival ... Gray’s characters devour the world through their senses, a voracious, bodily quality that's a gift in writing the story of a woman for whom meaning began in the body — who hoped to awaken the world through her own body, no less ... In this era of history commandeered by toxic masculinity with delusions of superhumanity, there’s a lot to be said for remembering the truth of the body, particularly the female and otherwise marginalized bodies that are so likely to be written out of the story...Isadora is a heavenly celebration of women in charge of their bodies.
Gray makes them and their suffering tremendously compelling and allows each of them moments of great sympathy ... A few of the lines in the book feel as if they could be embroidered on pillows or posted as social media memes...but the bulk of Gray’s language is fresh and forceful and full of surprise. She brings Isadora’s world to lush, vibrant life ... There is one aspect of Isadora’s life that doesn’t come through as vividly as I had hoped in this novel — her dance ... It is a brutal novel in many ways, completely unrelenting in its depiction of pain, yet that makes it exhilarating, too. Gray is a fearless writer, a writer willing to look into the most profound darkness and find strange, compelling music there.