... charming ... The Grimms have been charged with many offenses, from misogyny to gruesomeness, but Leky is not particularly interested in the troubling aspects of their legacy. She’s writing, instead, in their tradition of ethical instruction, with its faith in common people, who dominate the original tales ... She also shares their frank acceptance of hardship. Life is full of chaos and pain; stories, like religion and psychotherapy, help us tolerate and even transform it. In that spirit, every occurrence in What You Can See From Here is made light ... In her optimism and her playfulness, Leky aligns herself with other folklore enthusiasts like Helen Oyeyemi and Ali Smith, rather than the grittier likes of Elena Ferrante and Carmen Maria Machado. Her charm can verge on preciousness, particularly when it comes to sex and love, but for the most part, there is a satisfying spark to her short, declarative sentences; they induce reflection, and maybe even learning, like the folk tales and Buddhist koans that inform her work ... Sometimes that’s just what we want from fiction — a reminder that suffering is also part of life’s comedy. Other times we’d rather sleep a hundred years or see the evildoer boiled alive. For that, we have the original fairy tales. For a more civilized magic, there’s What You Can See From Here.
... warmhearted ... Leky is not staking out new ground with this whimsical love story. What You Can See From Here echoes other novels that spotlight small-town life, peopled by eccentric-but-endearing characters and featuring intergenerational bonds with families made up of both relatives and friends ... Some readers might find passages like these cutesy and cloying, even hokey. Yes, there are some heavy-handed metaphors about vision (see: the optician, the book’s title, etc.) and sentimental bits, particularly when characters recall childhood memories. But there is enough candor and humor, along with a handful of bracingly moody characters, to make Leky’s vision of perpetual love compelling. Of course, that’s because I err on the side of hope.