I closed out the year with three novels:
Americans in Space by Mary Mitchell, is a fun, satisfying read that traffics in my favorite thing: poignancy. The protagonist is a widow with a sense of humor about her difficult teenager and toddler who insists on toting around a ketchup bottle and their eventual return to their lives post-grief.
The Bright Forever by Lee Martin centers on a missing girl in a small town in Indiana during the Vietnam War-era and is told from the perspective of multiple characters. The writing is strong, and Martin makes you want to go out and search for this little girl to ease the pain of her family.
Then We Came to the End is a cleverly told office drama with a splash of British humor—even though the author, Joshua Ferris, is apparently from Brooklyn. Well, the British comment is a compliment, Joshua. This book was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2007, and even better, it has a cool website where you can tour the office—the setting for the book. Check out these stellar opening lines told in the “we” voice of the novel, which makes you feel like you’re hanging out with the characters around the water cooler:
“We were fractious and overpaid. Our mornings lacked promise.”
Come on, that’s better than “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” which isn’t even punctuated correctly, no?