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Narcissus Nobody: A Novel

por Gina Yates

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3.5 stars, rounded up to 4

The pace of this novel is slow, and I really enjoyed the writing style. Yates has a great ability draw the reader into the world of Hope Townsend, a compelling character. She’s compassionate, introspective and self-aware, but also limits herself by settling when it comes to her jobs and her relationships. I enjoyed following her story, and I loved the small moments Yates describes, such as stumbling upon a yard sale and Hope’s thoughts as she browses and discerns between the things that pique her interest and the junk. Or encountering a man she turned down for a date and wondering about the potential of a missed opportunity. “Maybe she’d gotten so used to half-loves that the prospect of a whole one terrified her.” I love those sharp, incisive realizations.

The story develops over a span of 20 years, but I found the sense of time to be a bit confusing. Some chapters starts with date and location markers, and some don’t. Sometimes the chapters that don’t have these markers at the opening are continuing in the time and space of the previous chapter, and sometimes details are revealed later in the text that a couple of months or years have passed. I was distracted by this, but not enough that I couldn’t follow the arc of the story or the path of the characters. I would have just preferred a sounder structure, if it was going to be there at all.

While this story is more about the development of Hope’s character than the plot, I felt a bit frustrated with the lack of growth throughout the story. I kept feeling surprised that as the chapters brought us to different years, she was still working at that same job, and still talking to that same dud boyfriend. Maybe that was the point. Brooks Nixon, the disgraced relationship advice author, is also a constant, though peripheral, presence in her life. He keeps popping up (finding his book at a yard sale, an interview on TV as she’s flipping channels, an article in a magazine, etc.) at moments that shine a light on Hope’s personal relationships and lead the reader to wonder if he actually might be on to something.

Thanks to the publisher, Three Rooms Press, and LibraryThing for an advance copy of this book. ( )
1 vota julie1burgess | Mar 2, 2021 |
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