Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson has all the qualities of a stellar debut novel: strong characters, interesting setting, complex plot and a hint of suspense. Set in the small college town of Winslow, New York, Levinson depicts the town vividly and the reader gets to know the town and its inhabitants through several engaging characters.
Catherine Strayed has lived in Winslow for several years but has never felt completely settled there. After leaving her own academic pursuits behind to move with her new husband, Wyatt to Winslow, where he received an offer to become a professor of creative writing at the small liberal arts college., Catherine settles into life working at the local bookstore. Catherine is a complex character, and her relationship with Wyatt is revealed throughout the story from her own memories and those of other characters. (more…)
Natalie Brown’s debut novel The Lovebird convinces me of one thing: you don’t have to like the main character to love a book. Brown writes a book filled with charming, complex characters that dwell in a world of sights and smells that they bumble through in a variety of hapless ways. The characters are self-involved and selfish, idealistic and clueless, yet they are also kind and loving, deeply caring and hopeful. Brown’s writing touches on the sublime in her descriptions of feelings, dreams and the physical world in which her characters exist.
The Lovebird is a coming of age story about a hopelessly naïve and passionate college student, Margie Fitzgerald. The minute Margie meets her Latin professor, Simon, the reader knows she is on a dangerous path. Margie is drawn to wounded creatures, and as the story unfolds it is clear that her empathy is one of her great strengths but also her biggest weakness. Margie connects with people who, like her, are missing something in their lives, searching for that lost piece, who feel always alone. She is drawn into a world of animal rights activism by her need to protect, be accepted and loved. These same qualities lead her to act in ways that will make the reader cringe at points throughout the book. (more…)