Customer Reviews


62 Reviews
5 star:
 (19)
4 star:
 (16)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (10)
1 star:
 (8)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts...
It took Jennifer Egan six years to write "Look at Me," and it shows. This sprawling, ambitious novel links together strange and diverse characters: Moose, a middle-aged ex-jock turned erratic history professor, still reeling from an epiphany he experienced years ago; Charlotte, a teenager longing for love while her brother recovers from leukemia; a furious Lebanese...
Published on Jan. 27 2012 by Reader Writer Runner

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Read
Look at Me was far more complex than I expected, but I think the author's obvious eagerness to explore the identities of various characters in the book manifested itself in some very exhaustive yet incomplete ways. For example, Charlotte's relationship with Ellen as well as Ellen's own identity issues are introduced and expounded on in entire chapters but never...
Published on March 2 2004 by dummy


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Jan. 27 2012
By 
Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
It took Jennifer Egan six years to write "Look at Me," and it shows. This sprawling, ambitious novel links together strange and diverse characters: Moose, a middle-aged ex-jock turned erratic history professor, still reeling from an epiphany he experienced years ago; Charlotte, a teenager longing for love while her brother recovers from leukemia; a furious Lebanese terrorist and an unhappily divorced private detective. Most strikingly, another older Charlotte dominates the narrative, this one a model from New York who has been in a disastrous car accident. Her face has been reconstructed with 80 titanium screws; once her livelihood, it is now a mask she hides behind as she walks past old friends and lovers who show no sign of recognition.

Many critics have commented on the uncanny way in which Egan's futuristic visions have come true. Indeed, in an age without webcams, Egan invents a dotcom start-up that approaches Charlotte in the hope that she'll let them record and webcast every detail of her daily life. The author's hinting at terrorist attacks on the United States (the book was published before 9/11) invokes an equal sense of eerieness and unease.

The climax that brings all the characters together feels both implausible and predictable yet Egan ultimately creates a commentary on how our own stories are mediated, commodified and shone back at us distortedly. As Charlotte says of her modeling career: "Being observed felt like an action, the only one worth taking. Anything else seemed passive, futile by comparison."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Identity, Meaning, Finding Yourself, March 9 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
In reading the reviews I have now learned that this is an ambitious novel. I suppose it is, but I rather call it rich, moving, and engrossing. I didn't want it to end, didn't want to put the book down, and it is rare that a book does that to me lately. What is most ambitious about this novel is that the author tackles complex themes in such a wonderful read. I wanted to know more about the main character whether she was hiding from herself or discovering who she really is. I didn't always like her, but I always wanted to know what happens next. For me, this is essential to a good read--I want to lose myself in the world of characters and, like with this book, wonder what happens to them after I have turned the final page and put the book on the shelf.
In addition to great characters, this novel does address issues of who we are. What happens when we lose it all? When we are no longer who we thought we were, who we pretended to be, who we played out for the world? It goes to the heart of self and self-discovery, but it's not some sappy lesson about being yourself or always having the answer. It's truer than that and that's what makes it complex and yes, ambitious. It was exciting to peel through the layers and go on this journey...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Read, March 2 2004
By 
dummy "dummy" (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
Look at Me was far more complex than I expected, but I think the author's obvious eagerness to explore the identities of various characters in the book manifested itself in some very exhaustive yet incomplete ways. For example, Charlotte's relationship with Ellen as well as Ellen's own identity issues are introduced and expounded on in entire chapters but never confronted or resolved but for a predictable encounter in the very last pages of the book. Touching on peripheral character's issues and I thought the ending was way too neat and contained.
Overall, I did enjoy the book - some parts, especially the ones that touched on isolation and despair towrads the beginning, are outstanding in their depth and clarity, but I agree with the other readers in that the book falters toward the end and seems contrived.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars A sizzle that eventually fizzles, Jan. 26 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
Almost all of the press for LOOK AT ME describes the novel as "ambitious," and that it is, but I'm wondering if Egan could have scaled the novel down slightly, she might have had a more compelling and important story. As it stands, Egan opens plenty of cans of worms but doesn't hook much of a fish for her efforts.
Overall, I found the book to be a bit plodding and distracting. Once one story line got warmed up, it was soon abandoned for another. Egan's shifting narrative focus, although ambitious, resulted in me not connecting very deeply with any of the characters. There were various points throughout the novel where I was about ready to call it quits, but then Egan would dangle another morsel of insight to keep me around for just a few more chapters. I trust her as a writer with voice. The morsels are good, but the overall experience is not.

I'm glad I read it but would hope for a less "ambitious" novel from Egan next time around--perhaps giving up some of the intrigue of plot for the sake of insight into character.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Good at the start, dissapointing ending., Jan. 6 2004
By 
Silvia Maria (Guatemala, Guatemala) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
Initially, I found the plot to be unique and inviting. The first part of the book was pretty interesting and somewhat of a page turner. However, towards the end, I found it very hard to finish the novel. I think it was probably due to the lack of character development towards the end. This, ultimately, gave way for a pretty weak ending.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately a very disappointing novel, Jan. 4 2004
By 
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
This was a page-turner, as they say. The first half was particularly compelling, although you quickly got the sense that here was a popular entertainment with high-philosophy pretensions that it couldn't quite handle the weight of. The other extremely irritating thing about the novel was the unconvincing efforts of the author to get inside the heads of her many supporting characters. The voice of the main character, the accident-damaged ex-model Charlotte Swenson, was pitch-perfect; this is probably because it was an extension of the author herself.
But everyone else, with the possible exception of Charlotte's childhood friend Ellen Metcalf, was off-pitch in one way or another. The world of the other Charlotte, Ellen's seventeen-year-old daughter, was hilariously off-base. What current-day teenagers, even white ones living in Rockford, IL, use words like "dire," "egregious," and "peachy"?
There were two black characters, a gay modeling agent and a straight homeless man. Both spoke in voices inauthentic to the cultures they were supposed to represent. The character of the identity-shifting Lebanese terrorist Aziz (and the foggy examination of his motivations) was even more unconvincing; the other male characters were made of cardboard or else too vaguely developed to stick with you. (There was also a paragraph about the World Trade Center that seemed almost flippant after the events of 2001.)
On the other hand, the plot was intriguing enough that you wanted to get to the end of the book, no matter how poorly it moved in the second half. But the ending was flat and seemed tacked-on. It sure didn't resolve any of the stories of the characters who weren't the protagonist.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Time, Dec 29 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
I could not finish this book even though a friend asked me to read it and offer an opinion.
The adjectives that come to mind: cheap, sleazy, unconvincing.
There are so many fine books out there. Don't waste your time on this one.
I seriously question the source of all those 5 star scores...friends? relatives? the author?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Unique story about identity and society, Nov. 2 2003
By 
E. L. Weinhold "Lolly" (Maryland, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
I picked this book up around 6:30 or 7:00pm and could not stop until I was finished. A fascinating novel about beauty, identity and the way that society sees both. The story begins with Charlotte Swenson, a woman who left her small-town USA home to become a big city model. When returning to her hometown (the first time in a number of years) she has a horrific car accident that nearly kills her. She is badly injured and requires reconstructive surgery to put her face back together. After 80 titanium screws are put into Charlotte's face, and numerous surgeries and treatments later, she begins to realize how her life has changed, and how things will never be the same. She returns to New York and is not recognized by her closest friends. She no longer can find work as an aging and drastically changed model. The whole concept of how beauty affected her work and her social status really intrigued me and kept me reading. Charlotte herself begins to view people differently, with their true intentions, their "shadow self" as she terms it.
There are many interesting side stories that tie into the larger cohesive novel. Egan did a great job tying the stories together with the themes of identity and societal norms. I found the Author's Afterword particularly interesting, and it helped me see the larger picture. Very interesting read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise, too many irrelevant twists, Sept. 14 2003
By 
Katrina T. Wisner "Katrina" (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
As other reviewers have noted, the premise for this book will draw you in. As I read it, however, I kept asking myself, Why is this has-been model's story all that exceptional since it sounds like her career was over anyway? This Internet venture is not believable! What was the point of the Anthony Halliday and Irene Maitlock characters-who get quite a bit of page time? Why even write about Ricky's cancer and his experience with the older skate kids? Why bother with Pluto the homeless man? These characters are all interesting, but in the end seem just a distracting tangent from the main story. I was waiting patiently for something to come together up until the last page of the book. As the stories seemed to want to converge, their connections were left undiscovered and the story seemed unfinished. terrible. I was disappointed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars great prose, told like a mystery, Aug. 28 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Look at Me: A Novel (Paperback)
This story opens with Charlotte Swenson, NYC sub-par model, emerging from a car accident that leaves her with her face changed, 80 titanium screws holding her together, outside of her hated hometown of Rockford, IL (90 miles west of Chicago.) She does not know the identity of the Good Samaritan who pulled her out of her burning car. She recoups at a neighbor's home while her sister and young neices visit her (she can't stand her brother-in-law.) During her convalescence, she tries to visit her best friend from high school, and meets her teenaged daughter, also named Charlotte.
From there, the plot splits into the worlds of the two Charlottes and everyone they know (who also get to narrate parts of their own stories.)
Only the adult Charlotte speaks her story in the first voice. This Charlotte is a C-list celeb who is no longer identifiable ("that woman in the ad telling you about her embarrassing flatulence in the board meeting? That's me.") At age 35, she was over-the-hill for modeling and she is stuck in horrifying embarrassing assignments if she is to get a job at all.
Teenaged Charlotte (and everyone else) speak in the third voice (so you can identify who is who.) She is dealing with not inheriting her mother's beauty (it instead went to her younger cooler brother Ricky, who has leukemia.) Charlotte is also starting a love affair with an older teacher who has newly arrived to town. (There is no information into this teacher's psyche until well into this book, and I appreciate the afterword the author provides that this book was written over a period of 6 years, and world events, particularly September 11, may affect how this character is viewed.)
Teenaged Charlotte is also having a difficult time with her uncle Moose, who was a high school football star during her mother and adult Charlotte's youth. Moose has since experienced a difficult time, including accusations of terrorism which cost him a job at Yale University.
The story all comes together in the end, as the two Charlotte's collide and the cause and nature of the car accident that changed both Charlotte's lives are revealed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xc0eb0de0)

This product

Look at Me: A Novel
Look at Me: A Novel by Jennifer Egan (Paperback - Oct. 8 2002)
CDN$ 17.95 CDN$ 12.96
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews