The mind is Nors’s landscape, and yearning her true subject. Sonja’s is an objectless yearning, deeper than nostalgia. Page after addictive page, Nors pushes Sonja beyond her class betrayal and survivor’s guilt, beyond anger at her mother for encouraging her independence, into and, miraculously, out of a profound dislocation of the soul embodied by her vertigo, which bursts forth in a gorgeous, breathless finale ... This triumphant novel sounds the depths of women’s unseen strength in a register that reconciles enlightened feminism with working-class rage.
Nors at her most unassuming and ambitious ... We’re locked in Sonja’s consciousness, but the novel never becomes claustrophobic. Opening it feels like opening a window — there’s a bracing freshness and chill to the writing, and the unforced ease of a song ... However plain the prose, Nors can’t help but handle words in interesting ways and put them to original uses ... This has always been a favorite move of hers— to yoke together unrelated clauses, to bring together despair and banality ... Nors’s fiction begins at the moment of unmooring — in all its pain and possibility, as these women imagine themselves into being. It’s the foundation, too, of a harsh wit that recalls early Lorrie Moore.
In Mirror, Shoulder, Signal...she mixes both the comic and the melancholic mode found in her earlier work ... Nors skillfully enacts the way most of us think: choppily and with frequent interruptions ... From the reflective to the comic to the portentous in a matter of seconds, Sonja’s thoughts contain worlds ... In the case of the driving scenes in Mirror, it is largely Nors’s light touch that ensures the symbolism goes down easy. In this way, the author distracts from the metaphorical implications of the lessons while still reaping the benefits of that metaphor. In the end, it’s Nors’s willingness to trade in the gently comedic, while still taking Sonja’s larger questing seriously, that makes Mirror, Shoulder, Signal such a complicated, and ultimately successful, balancing act.