I See You Everywhere, Julia Glass
I read Three Junes several years ago, and just loved it.
It won the National Book Award and rightly so, the prose was tight and light and the three stories were woven together in a believable but interesting way.
So my default position on I See you Everywhere was thumbs up.
And admittedly, from the first page I was streamed in, floating easily downstream. Perfectly pleasant ride during my often distracted summer days.
It was absolutely effortless to finish this book in 2-3 days and I found myself wanting to turn back to it. But the fact is, the writing is just strong enough that you don’t really notice that the story in of itself wasn’t that great.
Maybe I was just a wee bit cynical on the storyline, because I have a sister I actually like. (Believe me, I had a sister I didn’t like at one time, but we were like 16 and 18–not 33 and 37.)
And it’s not that Clem and Louisa don’t like each other. I think they care a great deal for each other. But they’re relationship is COM-PL-I-CA-TED. (Which again, whose sister story isn’t?) One is impulsive, one is restrained. One is an outdoor enthusiast, the other is an art critic. One is limelight, the other is shadows.
But we learn about their relationship from alternative narratives–first Clem shares a story, then Louisa. It’s interesting when perspectives overlap, but generally each of them keep moving the story forward with new moments. But what is unsatisfying in the plot is that we zip ahead 3 years, 5 years, 10 years with each chapter and I finally got a clue that these may have been a series of short stories that Glass ultimately wove together in a novel. But as a result, you kind of skip across the surface of their relationship with these small vignettes and when you finally get to that ‘come to Jesus’ moment about their relationship–you feel like you missed all the depth of what lies between.
The reviews I have seen have alluded to the fact that this book is highly autobiographical for Glass. Which somehow makes the story a lot more interesting. But I couldn’t help but wondering if in her attempt to mask this, or to protect the true facts, or to deviate just enough from her personal history–this is where she veered slightly off course.
And, as I write this–yep, decided–I am talking myself out of telling you to buy this book. Because after all, you want a great book, not a slightly-good-but-the-plot-kinda-bugged book.
So while I may have enjoyed it while reading it, there was no discernible lasting effect. No deep satisfaction.
Skip it and pick up Three Junes instead.