The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

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.

The Most Fun We Ever HadThe Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

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 not all of it made a good story for me. I just wasn’t invested in the family dynamics or family drama.

DNFd a couple chapters toward the end. It was the premise and guides to get there that were less enjoyable to me, almost pretentious in a way, but other readers might enjoy those types of aspects about the book. I suppose I’m not one for constant chit-chat and minutia of events unless it’s nonfiction. I had a hard time understanding 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 likely a mistake on my part. I’d recommend trying to 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 would like to try reading another book by this author, as again, I did like something unique about her ability to bring authenticity and sharing of certain relatable situations into a story.

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