I have seen this book on many reading lists and the reviews have been favorable. There is no doubt that the writing is very good and the format is interesting. It’s written as connected short stories that span several different family members over a number of years. Being set in rural Iowa, it brought to mind my own family and a few of the characters reminded me of those relatives.
I’m not sure if I will find anyone to agree with me, but I always get annoyed when a woman tries to write from a male perspective and falls short. I know we all joke about men and their limited emotional and intellectual ability, but the male characters in this book seem so one dimensional, especially compared to the female characters. It’s that unevenness that makes the book drag in places and gives it a sputtering rhythm as you work your way through their journeys.
I won’t go into the whole story, since I know many of you haven’t read it, but it was more than a little depressing. There was no big story arc, because of the format, so it was more like little arcs that let you peek into the small, kind of sad, little worlds of the Petersen family. It didn’t really leave me wanting more, but I wasn’t unhappy that I read it.