2014: 64. Amy and Isabelle

It was terribly hot the summer Mr. Robinson left town, and for a long while the river seemed dead.

Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout

I saw this for sale at my used book-o-rama (or, if I am to be perfectly honest, I might have grabbed it from my mom's bookshelves while up in Maine that weekend, and then thrown it in the used book box), because I had enjoyed The Burgess Boys so much.  And I did like this, though not quite as much.  While it's just as well written, and the characters as realistic as Burgess Boys, I feel like I've read more stories like this before, and so it didn't thrill me quite as much.  BUT on the plus side, it was much less sad than Burgess Boys, so it was less devastating to read.

It's set in the same town as Burgess Boys, Shirley Falls, Maine, but in the early 1970's, and it's the story of a mother and daughter (the eponymous Amy and Isabelle) trying to make their lives together, alone.  They go through a series of events (I'd say adventures, but rather, it's a series of real life events that might happen to anyone), and they come out the other side different people.  Just like real life.  It's a good version of this type of novel - I just feel like I've read a million coming of age in the 1970's novels.  And I didn't relate to Amy (the daughter) - though I felt the novelist identified more with her, I was definitely on team Isabelle.  This betrays my type-A good girl adolescence, but I never have patience with teen age girls who are drifting through life and make stupid, possibly life altering decisions.*  I just wanted her to snap out of it, put her head down, and get into a good college.  Which, duh, isn't the point of the novel, but who said readers have to be fair and realistic.

But I do like Stroud's writing, and I do want to seek out the one she actually won the Pulitzer for - so, look for a review of Olive Kitteridge, eventually.

*SPOILER technically, we later find out that Isabelle was also that type of girl, but she wasn't like that as an adult, so she didn't irritate me.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017