Patricia Highsmith wrote this book, right. . . ? It is a lackluster effort from someone as talented as she. This book seems like more of a rant on Christianity and organized religion, which would be fine if something else interesting were going on. What confused me most initially was the setting, in terms of time. Was this family "Leave it to Beaver" or "Six Feet Under". . . ? Everyone seemed so stereotypically '50s, without any of the true dysfunction that would seem to have been exhibited by a family in the '80s, particularly the main character. Maybe I just don't remember the '80s well enough. Despite the differences in opinions and viewpoints of various family members, little tension--implied or otherwise--develops.
Am I having sex with my girlfriend? Sure, but it's all secret, implied, and hush-hush--sounds more '50s-ish than '80s-ish.
Does she get pregnant? Sure, but I don't care all that much, and I'm really not all that panicked about it.
Are her parents ready to kill me? No, they don't seem to care much either--more '80s than '50s.
Do my parents care all that much? Not really, since they're not even sure I have a girlfriend. Despite their initial reaction--or lack thereof--I get kicked out of my house. Rather quietly. I don't resist, either. I don't even yell back when my dad tells me. In fact, I seem to care very little. . . .
Do I hate my brother? I guess, but not all that much.
The result is that the reader doesn't care that much, either. I love Highsmith's sublety and implied nature of the conflict and violence that lies within. Her pacing is immaculate. I have never been bored. Until now. She just doesn't build the tension in the early pages enough to carry through subsequent chapters. The result is that I finished simply out of inherent loyalty to Highsmith--not concern or interest in the plot or characters.
I am not used to being "bored" by Highsmith, and I have truly enjoyed and anticipated each of her novels that I've read. If you're new to the club, you might want to start elsewhere. If you're fiercely loyal, you still might want to go somewhere else. If you run out of other titles, give it a run. At least it's relatively short. . . .