cover image Louisa Meets Bear

Louisa Meets Bear

Lisa Gornick. FSG/Sara Crichton, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-19208-2

Gornick’s brilliantly constructed third novel (after Tinderbox) offers a seamless series of events, spanning from 1961 to 2009, that explore the full spectrum of life in all its bizarre coincidences, tragedies, and passions. Presented as an array of interconnected stories that focus on different characters (à la A Visit from the Goon Squad), with shifting uses of first, second, and third person, Gornick’s book ties together her characters as they undergo experiences ranging from growing up as a pregnant teen with a depressed and distant mother (Lizzy, in “Instructions to Participant”), to finding a soulmate in college (Louisa, in “Louisa Meets Bear”), to facing the uncomfortable sexual urges a father has toward his adopted teenage daughter, who seems to have disappeared during a night’s outing in Venice, Italy (Richard, in “Misto”). The fact that Lizzy and Louisa are cousins, and that the adopted daughter is the baby that Lizzy gave up, typifies Gornick’s dazzling plot construction. But this book is so much more—at its heart is the torrid relationship between Louisa and Bear that, decades later, comes full circle in a remarkably revelatory way. Gornick captures all the heartbreak and joy of what it is to be human. Agent: Geri Thoma, Markson Thoma Literary Agency. (June)