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2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on May 25, 2004
The book captured me -- primarily because of the shifting points of view. Alone with Emily in her thoughts, I liked her and felt compassion for her. From Lise's point of view, I saw only a bitter mother-in-law. Which only made me feel compassion for BOTH of them, and the huge space between them neither seemed emotionally skilled enough to cross.
So rather than finding flat, dull, unlikable characters, as some other reviewers have, I found multidimensional characters with main themes they couldn't -- despite themselves -- shake. Is there love in this family? More on Friday and Saturday of the long week, even more in the recollections. Life is like that. I mean c'mon -- Aunt Arlene pitching the wiffle ball to Sammy "Whammy Bammy" Maxwell like his grandfather once did? O'Nan gives you many, many moments such as this that resonate.
Should the kidnapped gas attendant have been found? Should a character have careened through a wild arc of growth and self-discovery? While some readers may want that, O'Nan doesn't give it -- and that's his perogative. It left me feeling as I often do in life -- searching.
I found the climax of the book to be release -- the open bathroom door one reviewer wrote about. Maybe loss filters through us physically. Finishing the book, I was reminded of the quote (by Thoreau, I believe) that most of us live lives of "quiet desperation."
Lots more to say, but I'll end with this -- didn't anyone else appreciate the short chapter written from the dog Rufus' point of view? I found the dog one of the most touching characters, oddly. How much easier it is to be our true selves with a nonjudgmental pet rather than those we love and fear at the same time.
Anyway -- four stars. Had to write a review to boost the ratings. O'Nan is too talented a stylist.
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on November 23, 2002
Wish You Were Here is an excellent and evocative look at the life of one extended family during a week's vacation at their family home on a lake in New York State. The week is bittersweet because the house is being sold. The father/grandfather has recently died and his wife decides the house is more than she can handle. This novel explores the little things, the details of the life of this family, yet still manages, in an almost sneaky way, to cover the larger issues as well. This is a rather long (over 500 pages) novel, yet I found it to be a quick read because it was so enjoyable, so evocative. The novel brings you into that vacation week, into the minor family dramas very effectively. Enjoy.
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