Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review : A Gate at the Stairs

I really do have a love/hate relationship with book clubs. I obviously love the social aspect of them, and I think it's great when people read and talk about reading, because I'm just a book nerd like that. However, I've found that because of book clubs I often end up reading books that I don't enjoy... and therefore wasting my time. Reading tastes vary so much, and although I do adore and appreciate good book recommendations, I've often found book club picks to be severely lacking.

Take, for instance, this month's pick for my office book club: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore. The main character is 20-year-old Tassie Keltjin, a university student from a small town who scores her first job as a nanny. However, the family she works for doesn't have a child yet, so Tassie participates with them in the process of adopting a bi-racial girl named Emmie. Tassie also starts a relationship with a man named Reynaldo, and has complicated relationships with her family members. [SPOILER ALERT] By the end of the book Emmie has been taken away from the family (who we find had assumed a new identity after causing the death of their first child), Tassie's boyfriend disappears (for apparent terrorist involvement?) and Tassie's brother is killed at war.

The New York Times raved about this book, which was why my co-worker chose it, but not a single one of us could figure out why. I thought the book was absolutely terrible; the worst I can remember reading in a very long time. I truly regret wasting my time on it. I found the whole thing to be completely random and rambling, and the way it is written I actually felt like I was going crazy from trying to follow Tassie's erratic and sometimes downright insane thoughts. The plot is very random and doesn't seem to draw real conclusions.

I'll tell you one thing, when it's time for me to choose a novel for book club I'm going to make sure that I've read it first, so I don't subject my co-workers to something like this again!

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