Meh, not her best, and I am a Tyler fan. The first half of this, her latest novel, was typical Tyler–easy and recognisable descriptions of everyday life. The second half was predictable and bland. Julie Myerson from the Guardian says it best, “The Baltimore author’s 22nd book has familiar comforts, but lacks narrative drive.”
Willa has always let life happen to her. We see Willa in the novel at ages 11, 21, 41, and 61. One day she receives a phone call and flies across the country to help someone she has never met and isn’t even related to. This impulsive decision is, of course, the catalyst to examining her own life and choices (or lack thereof).
The novel starts strong with Willa and her friend trying to sell chocolate bars for charity in the neighbourhood. The angst around knocking on doors brought me right back to my own childhood, which is what this author does best. Later there’s an odd scene about a man threatening Willa with a gun on an airplane that flirts with danger and intrigue, but soon deflates like a popped balloon and leaves Willa once again seeming weak and wimpish–a brilliant point made about Willa, however, after that, lively scenes disappear altogether and the novel flatlines. Even the conclusion which should have been ground breaking and earth shattering (since her whole life had been leading up to this point) sadly lacked luster. Oh well, it’s not unusual to enjoy some books from a favourite author less well than some others–this, is just that.