Who Do You Love: Stories, a 1999 National B"/>


Jean Thompson, Author . Simon & Schuster $24 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7432-0512-2

Domestic tensions deflate into screwball hijinks in this pleasant, if somewhat toothless, debut novel by the author of Who Do You Love: Stories, a 1999 National Book Award finalist for fiction. Set over one summer in Springfield, Ill., the novel follows four characters floundering amid life's disappointments. Elaine is a wry, open-hearted divorcée ("so far she had a business that worked, a marriage that didn't, and a daughter who the jury was still out on"). Her daughter, Josie, hates Springfield, hates her parents' divorce, hates her whole life. She wants to skip town, but settles for falling in love with a policeman and scheming to get herself arrested. Elaine and Josie find themselves caring for her ex-husband's doddering great uncle Harvey, a half-blind, compulsive watcher of the Weather Channel. Harvey just wants to be left alone, and he especially wants to avoid the cataract surgery that Elaine insists on. Meanwhile, in California, a violent young man named Rolando steals a car and heads east. A lifetime of abuse from his peers has plunged him into delusional rage. Like the weather systems that Harvey obsessively tracks, he rolls toward Springfield. Thompson's characters are mostly likable, especially the mordant Elaine, determined to muddle through flawed relationships and shoulder her responsibilities, however remote happiness may seem. Unfortunately, the novel loses its edge by the time it reaches its sensational climax. The fury and mute pain of Rolando and Harvey, respectively—which start out lending the book its ominous tension—are blunted, and the mood tips toward gentle comedy. It's a credit to Thompson that the contrived plot still holds the reader's attention, and that her tidy, optimistic ending never becomes saccharine. Beneath these cheerful shenanigans, a more truthful story seems to stir—it's a pity Thompson hasn't let it come to the surface. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 12/01/2001
Show other formats
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-7432-2958-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-2086-6
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.