CBR15 PASSPORT (Stamp #7: New to me author)
CBR15 BINGO (Adulthood square: four sisters figuring out their shit)
This book has been touted as a re-telling of Little Women. If you squint a little, I guess it works. It is a book about complicated relationships between four sisters with a domineering mother and a mostly absent father (although not physically absent). Napolitano does even reference Little Women as the sisters try to figure out which Alcott sister they represent. Unlike the classic sisters though, Napolitano’s characters are not as easily pigeon-holed. There is not just one adventurer, one wife and mother, one frail talent, or one flamboyant artist.
The Padavano girls live in a small house in a Chicago neighborhood with their garden-obsessed mother and philosophical father. The eldest is determined to follow a strictly linear path: college, marriage, and baby, and will bend everyone in her orbit to fit within the confines of her plan. The next daughter lives in a holding pattern waiting for poetical love. The youngest sisters, twins, take different forks in the road both at odds with the mother and their Catholic upbringing.
Woven into the fabric of their tight-knit family is a young man without one. A young man so grateful to be part of something, that he forgets himself. (Yes, he’s the sort of Laurie.) Swept up in the emotionally charged Padavano family, he becomes overwhelmed and finds it more and more difficult to be who they want him to be.
I think because I really liked this book, what I didn’t like about it pesters me a bit. I am just a few years younger than the twins and no more than a handful of years younger than the two oldest siblings. Had some issues with the culture here. The sisters gave off a 1950s/1960’s vibe to me. Often the things they said and did reminded me more of my mother’s generation than young women in the early 1980s. I kept wondering where the malt shop was. Even the college campus experience seemed a little off the mark by a decade or two. For those of you who went to college in the 1980s, am I alone in this?
The weird timey-wimey feel is the only reason that I’m not giving this one 5 stars. It did gnaw at me a little and pulled me out of the story at times. Nevertheless, it was a great novel about how each of us engages and sometimes disengages with the world and our struggle to discover who we are and what we want under the pressures of our environment and the thorny thicket of our own nature.