Writing: 5/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5
A humorous, well-written, millennial coming-of-age story (to be clear, the coming of age to “real” adulthood in your twenties, rather than the rocky road through puberty). Ellie is 24 when her father dies suddenly. As the eldest of his four children from three different wives, she has always felt she was his favorite, but when she is left an insulting object in his will while the “lucky baseball” she craved went to a complete stranger, she began trying to track down the truth about her father. In the meantime, she is a budding journalist trying to write something meaningful while employed at a D.C. media start-up focused solely on clickbait measures and is seeing a deeply nerdy (and deeply married) man who is (surprise) not always available when she needs him. Somehow this all comes together with a story on the local Osprey cam as a leading indicator of ecological disaster in a way that is both comical and deeply insightful. Very good writing.
I really did love the writing — so many good quotes!
“Exclamation points had become little signposts announcing, I mean well! and had become so normalized that in their absence I felt a deep sense of foreboding. But every now and then you found yourself up against someone who refused to give in to exclamation points, who typed what they meant with zero reassurances, making the rest of us look like overzealous clowns.” (My favorite quote as I am one of those clowns!)
“D.C. was like that. You were always one step away from a cockroach.”
“It was like my mother always said: ‘If you’d just lose some weight, you could enjoy your young body.’”
“It was true that I was proud of the life I’d started to make, getting on my bicycle in the morning, dismounting lightly at a glowing little start-up, then returning home to my ad hoc salon of housemates, whose drive and purpose and hopefulness about the world, I hoped, might spur me on too.”
“The earth had been diagnosed with end-stage cancer, and every morning I learned that diagnosis anew.”
“That was another thing I was learning — I had to read how much people could handle; I had to tuck in my sadness when too much of it showed. I picked the orange peel from my glass and sucked the bitter alcohol from its flesh.”
“If only Katherine hadn’t seen us on the stoop at that exact moment, with her kale body and her hornet’s nest judgement.”
“Talking to him was like getting tapped repeatedly on the shoulder by an octopus with one wet tentacle.”
“Stories could have such unsatisfying and unlikely outcomes. More and more, I felt we willingly built entire worlds on very little information. Like sandcastles, if you poked them anywhere, the whole structure would revert to its components. It was our nature to do that, to fill in the details and become convinced they were true and not our own fantasies and imaginations bumping up against someone else’s reality.”
“At points all over the earth, people were advancing toward each other and away from each other, and this was just one instance in the vast history of these of these moments. I thought that the collection of all such trajectories must make up the most complex atlas in existence.”
Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on June 21st, 2022.