A Novel

Book - 2020
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"Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years, she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She's become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you've seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience--but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she's learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks . . . And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in--funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2020
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780385351102
Branch Call Number: OFF
Characteristics: 207 pages ; 20 cm


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Feb 16, 2020

I am not sure I would have finished this book if I wasn’t reviewing it. It all came together in the end, as Lizzie uses the accumulation of knowledge she’s gained while being a librarian. She’s got a marriage, a busy son, a crazy mentor who Lizzie is helping, her brother, a former addict who is now a father and a mother obsessed by God. How can she juggle all their problems along with her own is quite an adventure and I am glad I finished the book. If you are looking for a book with strict plot structure, this isn’t it, but it’s a good look at a woman’s fragmented life and how she copes with everything that she must.

ArapahoeAlice Jan 22, 2020

An unusual novel written in wonderful short paragraphs, all told from the point of view of the protagonist, Lizzie, a married academic librarian whose life is disrupted when she is hired to answer mail for a famous futurist. I was impressed with how much I understood about the people in Lizzie's life based on short flashes of information: her son, husband, brother, brother's girlfriend, library patrons, coworkers, and mentor. Love the sense of humor. It's a small short book that delivers an interesting story.

Nicr Dec 04, 2019

Another pithy, funny, quotable installment from the wonderful Jenny Offill. Here, Lizzie deals with her reformed addict brother, her husband and son, her job at the library, climate change, her "officially middle-aged" birthday and its attendant existential musings. Then the 2016 election, which focuses musings into dread. Offill dovetails with Lorrie Moore in my mind--not faint praise.

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