A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl by Jean Thompson

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Book to be released on Oct 9, 2018.

Writing: 4 Characters: 3.5 Plot: 3

This (well-written) book could easily be subtitled: “Three Generations of Unhappy Women.” Evelyn — the matriarch — gave up the intellectual life she craved to marry a man she didn’t love. Her daughter, Laura, became a “pleaser,” working constantly to smooth tensions between her mother, her husband, her troubled son, and the rest of the world. Laura’s daughter, Grace, struggles to free herself from family binds but can’t seem to make much progress.

The book is 336 pages of pure drama — unwanted pregnancies, extramarital affairs, alcoholism, cancer, drug addiction and rehab, and just plain old meanness fill the pages giving the characters the opportunity to experience grief, angst, anger, and numbness in a raucous merry-go-round of emotions. While it is very well done — a real page turner — I found it a little annoying that most of these problems (the cancer excepted) were of their own devising and fully under their own control to fix. There was little insight, revelation, or determination brought to bear on the various situations. I personally did not identify with, or even particularly like, any of the characters.  That’s just me — I’ve read some of the other early reviews and people seem to really like the emotional intensity of the story and identify with the troubles these people face — maybe you will too!

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