Apparently I prefer the less-acclaimed wives of critical darling male authors. Nicola Krauss? Waaaaay better than Jonathan Safran Foer. And now? Ayelet Waldman wins out over her pretentious other half Michael Chabon.
This one gets three and a half stars, really. Good but won't leave a lasting impression.
The lives of two families are torn apart when their son and daughter are killed en route from their wedding ceremony to their reception. The book is divided into sections describing the first, second, and third summers following the accident that claimed the lives of Becca and John. Becca's parents are Jewish New York intellectuals who spend their summers in the Maine town her ancestors helped establish. Still, Iris is seen as an outsider by John's mother Jane who lives and works as a cleaning lady in the town year-round. Iris takes Jane's adopted niece under her wing because she needs to feel like she is in control of something, and this serves only to further strain Iris's already delicate marriage. To complicate matters, Becca's sister and John's brother begin to date in secret.
Waldman's prose is manageable and full of emotion, her characters feel lifelike and complex. There's not a lot of new ground covered here, but it's an enjoyable read and I loved the way it was structured - the prologue introduced the major characters and foreshadowed how they'd unravel without feeling forced. The ending was ultimately a little too convenient, and it never does feel like there's any true consequence to anything that happened in the first 90% of the book.