Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: "Wish You Were Here" by Stewart O' Nan

While I know for sure I picked the wrong book to read first, Stewart O’ Nan is a writer I am developing quite a key interest in, and his long novel Wish You Were Here, is a solid, if sometimes clunky take on a family on the verge of a massive change. O’Nan is writer whose has published quite a lot with little to modest fanfare. His most famous works are that with Stephen King about the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. His fiction is a lot different than King’s though, judging from this book. It feels a lot like something Richard Russo would write, bug a bit less daunting and more accessible. The thing for me that hindered this book was it’s 500-page length. Most of O’Nan’s well-reviewed books are slim, clocking in at barely 150 pages. There is a lot of padding here that takes away from the feel of the book, and it might have been great if it was at least cut in half. The novel focuses on a family who are having one last get together on their lake house property before the matriarch of the family sells it. Said matriarch, Emily, is still reeling from the recent death of her husband. Along with her sister in law, the painfully nostalgic Arlene, she gathers the two sides of her family for a weeklong vacation. Her son, Ken, is forty-something would-be photographer who has sacrificed his creativity to work at a camera shop. Her daughter Meg, is recently divorced and is having trouble coping with it. Along with their children, they spend the week discovering new wounds and ways to heal them. It is a bit sappy, but I like that sometime. The book has a bittersweet quality about it that is sweeter than what you’d normally get out of a book like this. Along with the padding comes a silly robbery subplot that is very out of place, and the four children are interchangeable. Despite the length, this was an enjoyable book, and will read more Stewart O’ Nan in the future.

Rating: 4/5

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