Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review: Like Family

Summary: Paolo Giordano’s prizewinning debut novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, catapulted the young Italian author into the literary spotlight. His new novel features his trademark character-driven narrative and intimate domestic setting that first made him an international sensation.

When Mrs. A. first enters the narrator’s home, his wife, Nora, is experiencing a difficult pregnancy. First as their maid and nanny, then their confidante, this older woman begins to help her employers negotiate married life, quickly becoming the glue in their small household. She is the steady, maternal influence for both husband and wife, and their son, Emanuele, whom she protects from his parents’ expectations and disappointments. But the family’s delicate fabric comes undone when Mrs. A. is diagnosed with cancer. Moving seamlessly between the past and present, Giordano highlights with remarkable precision the joy of youth and the fleeting nature of time. An elegiac, heartrending, and deeply personal portrait of marriage and the people we choose to call family, this is a jewel of a novel—short, intense, and unforgettable. -- Pamela Dorman Books

LIKE FAMILY by Paolo Giordana is just a beautiful novel. There isn't really much more for me to say about it. It received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, and if I gave out "stars," it would receive one from me too. The writing is exquisite and the universal themes of family, love and loss will resonate with all readers.

LIFE FAMILY tells the story of a family's relationship with Mrs. A, a maid then nanny to their young son Emanuele. Mrs. A. is quite a force and she helps the family with more than just chores around the house -- she becomes a vital part of the household and offers much needed (and appreciated) advice about life. When Mrs. A. is diagnosed with cancer and retires, the family finds themselves with a huge void in their lives; and they struggle to keep everything together while also helping the woman who is "like family" to them.

LIFE FAMILY is an extremely powerful book. It comes in under 150 pages but those pages are rich with emotion. I am having  a difficult time expressing just how touching the novel is. The story is told through the eyes of an unnamed narrator who is both a father, husband, and scientist... and who probably resembles the author. In fact, the entire novel is based on Mr. Giordana's experience with the loss of a real-life "Mrs. A."

This novel is about so much more than just the story of this family and Mrs. A. The narrator actually begins a reflection into his life that is both insightful and, at the same time, humbling. As I read this novel, I thought about my life and how I could be a better wife and mother and friend. And truth be told, if a book can entertain you and make you think, that's a huge testament to the author.

I highly recommend LIKE FAMILY to fans of literary fiction. It's a beautifully written novel that just might have the power to make you examine your own life!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I reviewed this book today too but you liked it more than I did. It was beautifully written but I didn't connect with any of the characters.