Title: Alternate Side
Author: Anna Quindlen
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Random House
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Random House via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Goodreads Summary: “The tensions in a tight-knit neighborhood—and a seemingly happy marriage—are exposed by an unexpected act of violence in this provocative new novel from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Miller’s Valley and Still Life with Bread Crumbs.
Some days Nora Nolan thinks that she and her husband, Charlie, lead a charmed life—except when there’s a crisis at work, a leak in the roof at home, or a problem with their twins at college. And why not? New York City was once Nora’s dream destination, and her clannish dead-end block has become a safe harbor, a tranquil village amid the urban craziness. Then one morning she returns from her run to discover that a terrible incident has shaken the neighborhood, and the fault lines begin to open: on the block, at her job, especially in her marriage. With humor, understanding, an acute eye, and a warm heart, Anna Quindlen explores what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a woman at a moment of reckoning.”
Review: This is another book that falls under the category of “read awhile back/late to review”, so this review will be more about my feelings and faded recollections about this book. Please keep that under advisement (though my rating was assigned in Goodreads at the time I finished it).
I’m a fan of Anna Quindlen. Her style is stellar and my reading experience with her work has been more hits than misses. Which is why it pains me to give any of her work 3 stars. It is most definitely not a reflection on her writing, but on the story. In a nutshell, I wasn’t interested. Not in their privileged little lives, not in the disruption of their perfect little enclave. The only characters I cared about in this book were Ricky and his family, and they were hardly the focus.
Truthfully, the neighborhood in this story sounds like a neighborhood I lived in not too long ago, one where HOA’s ruled, and the people who loved them were tyrants. A neighborhood filled with people who cared more about how the neighborhood looked, the status it gave them, than the people who actually live in it, who shunned newcomers and rejected change. I struggle to empathize with them, and this book gave me no insights that would help in that cause.
No matter how good the writing, if I can’t invest in the characters, if I don’t care about their wins and woes, it’s a meh read for me. Alas, that is the case here. But I’ll still be first in line for her next book.