A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.
When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.
As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.
Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program.
I really liked the author’s ability to communicate relatable circumstances but that didn’t make a good story for me and I wasn’t invested in the family dynamics or family drama.
DNFd. Why torture myself and drudge through the agony of not understanding what I had been reading in the last few chapters toward the end? My experience and understanding of the story wasn’t fun for me, it was the premise and guides to get there that came off a bit over-indulgent to me, but other readers might enjoy those types of aspects about the book. And other people may be entertained by the constant chit-chat and minutia of events but I could not for the life of me understand and keep up with what was going on.
Between the changing POVs and changing timeline, the characters and events were not memorable to me. I realized that having read up to page 45 and trying to finish the rest in another sitting was a mistake on my part. I’d recommend most read this one in one sitting, otherwise if you’re like me, you might forget which character is who and what circumstance they are in and why it mattered.
Every reader has differing thresholds, but the vulgarity and dysfunction was too much for me. Gross.
I think I may try reading another book by this author, as again, I did like her authenticity and way of sharing relatable situations.