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Author: Anthony Varallo
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Published: August 15, 2019
Book Description: Set in the summer of 1979, when America was running out of gas, The Lines tells the story of a family of four—the mother, the father, the girl, and the boy—in the first months of a marital separation. Through alternating perspectives, we follow the family as they explore new territory, new living arrangements, and new complications. The mother returns to school. The father moves into an apartment. The girl squares off with her mother, while the boy struggles to make sense of the world. The Lines explores the way we are all tied to one another, and how all experience offers the possibility of love and connection as much as loss and change.
Rating: 2 1/2 Stars
Review: The Lines is such an interesting read for me that I am so torn on this rating, so I am reserving the right to change my rating. The story takes place in 1979 and the title comes from the lines that people needed to wait on to purchase gas due a shortage that was occurring on this time. The book centers around a family of four, the mother, the father, the boy and the girl (they do not have names in this story). The parents are separating and this novel tells that story of that particular moment in their lives.
The writing is absolutely fabulous and even the story as simple as this one is (and really this is very simple) was beautiful. However, where this book lost me and a felt a major disconnect was that this family had no names. Everything is, the boy, the girl, the mother and so on. The supporting characters in this book are named and referenced a lot. In my opinion only, this took some of the attachment in a book that I crave. It was a weird experience reading this, with such a dissociative feeling.
I think people will love this story, and the writing, however if you want the connection, that I so wanted, this might leave you wanting just a little bit more.
Thank you NetGalley and University of Iowa Press for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.
2 replies on “The Lines – Book Review”
That’s weird the characters had no names, why do you think the author decided to do it that way?
I was actually thinking a lot about this, and ended up reading an article about this on Book Riot and the thought they had was that creates a paradoxical solidarity between the characters and the readers.
Maybe it works for some readers, but not just for me.