Members of a Canadian family struck by dual tragedies struggle to pick up the pieces of the lives they thought they once knew, their disillusionment fraying their relationships with one another and those beyond the family circle.
With We All Love the Beautiful Girls, Proulx...moves firmly into John Cheever territory, exploring with a keen eye and incisive prose the suburbs of quiet desperation, peeling back facades to reveal the desperation and violence that lurk just below the surface. When that violence comes to a head, the results are as devastating as they are unexpected. Building out of the family drama, the novel serves as a powerful examination of race and class, effective because it’s so personal. Proulx isn’t working with sweeping indictments or societal commentary, but weaving the commentary through unexamined privilege and world-view. It’s striking because it’s not a conversation we’re used to having ... As one reads We All Love the Beautiful Girls, impressions of the characters will shift and change, a verisimilitude that is the result of careful attention and unflinching honesty.
What compelled me the most was Mia's struggle to parent a damaged boy who was almost a man ... children pass the point of wanting to be held by their mothers very quickly; there is a need to find ways to mother that don't involve the easiness of touch. This novel taught me that this will take work but isn't impossible. There is also a searing message here about the power imbalance that can happen in male/female relationships and the danger this can pose for everyone ... When I finished this novel, I wanted to tell everyone I knew to read it. It is one of the best, most important books I've read in a very long time.
Proulx’s novel covers a lot of territory, with several twists and turns, and it is tempting to wish she didn’t try to say quite so much about so many things. Mostly she keeps the balls in the air, but some storylines can feel overdone, especially the misguided machismo from nearly every male character ... That is not to say it is unrealistic, just tiring—which may be the point. The story excels in its depiction of women ... The scenes between Mia and Frankie are the best of the book and offer a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak moral landscape.