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Wish You Were Here: A Novel
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Showing 1-4 of 4 reviews(5 star). See all 20 reviews
on June 15, 2002
Stewart O'Nan has done here--successfully--what one of the members of the family he portrays longs to do as a photographic work: he captures the summer world of Lake Chautauqua, where time moves slowly and every change seems a betrayal of memory, rather than a step in progress. But this only the setting; the true stars of this drama are the family. O'Nan examines its web of relationships, politics and attitudes with an uncannily accurate eye. He assumes each character's point of view lovingly; he knows them all, young and old, male and female. And so do we, because we've been there ourselves--the recognition is half the fun of the reading. The detail, too, is marvelous: whose workbench, for example, has never been graced with a Chock-Full-O-Nuts can crammed with dead paintbrushes? Wish You Were Here reminds us what a flawed species we are, so eager to turn away from each other to search for that Something that must, by nature, elude us--the perfect light, the impossible love, the exquisite memory, the undiluted attention of our parents. There are no jarring plot twists, no car chases, no fights-to-the-death, no special effects--just fine writing, arresting characters, right-on dialogue (spoken and internal) and a week's crash course in what makes us bizarre creatures tick. Read; recognize; enjoy.
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on August 27, 2003
If you like character driven stories, then you will enjoy this book. Stewart O'Nan brings such life and personality to the characters in this story that you will feel like you are part of their family and sitting right there with them before you finish the book. If you like books that are action packed and suspenseful, then this is NOT a book for you. On the other hand, if you want to read something with substance that you can really sink your teeth into, then this is a MUST read. A very enjoyable story of family, difficult situations and real life.
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on May 1, 2002
This book will rank up there with my most favorites. It is one of the very few books that I felt the need to really Read, not just skim through, catching the highlights. O'Nan is able to see life through and capture the emotions of both sexes and all ages. He brings the reader into his characters lives and their thoughts so that you feel for each of them. I had a hard time putting it down. I would highly recommend it.
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on March 5, 2003
It's not surprising that a book like this brings out bipolar reaction such as we've seen here: you either love it or you don't. Count me as one of the ones who love it -- for me, this was a page-turner. The depth that O'Nan reaches with each of these characters is remarkable, every one of them so finely constructed. He also nails the general discomfort of family vacations better than anyone.
I've read all of O'Nan's novels, and for me, this is his most accomplished work to date. It is a work that is unafraid to be uncompromising in its scope and its intent.
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