What a lovely book. I deeply enjoyed this book. I think Conklin does a beautiful job of rendering the human desire for connection with others, of admitting to us that even the most fiercely independent of us find ourselves yearning for someone to be near us, of reminding us that in our core we are merely pack animals trying to survive the day. I haven’t read a novel in a long time that really encapsulates the sibling relationship, the deep bond that ties groups of people who grow up side by side, sharing homes and experiences and parents and faces. There’s something primal and unfathomable and deeply unexplainable about sibling love, but I found myself saying, “yes, that is exactly it” many times while reading this novel; Fiona says near the end, that her poetry was “derived from my brother and my sisters. My first and greatest love.” This was a beautiful and heartbreaking story, full of surprises as unexpected, as painful, and as relieving as any in real life, and I truly enjoyed every moment of it. A lot of the experiences of the characters felt resonate with my own, which I think will cement this book as a long-time favorite of mine.
(My only complaint is both a meaningless and important one— that the story felt *the most* about Joe, and that Conklin, despite her feminist characters and tones, fell back on the Achilles heel of many women by making a story, in the end, about a man. Do with this complaint what you will. I felt it occasionally in the story and felt it was relevant enough to share here.)