We are not ourselves

We are not ourselves by Matthew Thomas (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

Unlike the reviewers quoted on the back cover, I found this novel to be quite depressing. But in spite of the somber tone and epic length, there was something compelling about it. I kept reading when I intended to put it down, because I wanted to know what happened to the characters. Did Eileen ever get her dream house? Did Ed become successful? Did they figure out why Ed behaved so oddly? What happens to Connell when he grows up? It’s certainly not escapist fiction – it takes place in a very ordinary twentieth century New York City, probably very familiar to readers who live there. For any middle-aged or older American, it’s the life story of a family we feel like we could have known. Maybe that’s why it’s so depressing: it feels like real life.

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