Any discussion of this book has to include wondering how publishers decide exactly what information (and what NOT) to share on the book cover. In this book’s case, there is a rather large “reveal” that thanks to an especially telling book jacket, I knew about. The friend who recommended it read the book electronically so was utterly astounded at the reveal and it made the book for her. I still think I am a bit bitter that I was not given the chance to have that surprise, especially since Karen Joy Fowler, the author, did such a fantastic job of keeping it hidden until she wanted you to know. Too bad the publisher/marketing team did not have the same restraint.
So I will not tell you the reveal and will leave it to you to decide how much you want to know. My advice is to pick up this book but do not read anything about it. Don’t research it, don’t look at the back of the book summary. Just flip quickly to page one and begin.
That being said, I did not love this book. Overall I thought the subject matter turned sad and dark in a way I was not expecting and I finished the book with tears in my eyes and wishing I could change a fundamental part of a rather large industry. I did love how the story was told though, and I appreciate a book that immediately invites you in. The narrator is likeable, yet flawed and the writing style is casual; you feel like she is speaking directly to you. In the end it is story about family, about love, about grief. It is hard for me to tell you to read it because I walked away feeling so devastated, but in a way, isn’t that a huge compliment about this book and a reason for you to read it? It was so well written it has haunted me. If you are looking for a solid read with a unique subject matter, check it out. Just don’t look at the cover or the back before you do.