I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have much of a method for choosing which book to read next. Sometimes it’s what I have that came to me from the library. Sometimes it’s what I scrounge to find on available on my wishlist at the time that I find myself needing a new book. But how do I choose those books? That’s something I should write down, because I just finished reading a book and I find myself wondering where it was recommended to me. Goodreads tells me that “Among the Ten Thousand Things” was published last July, and that I added it to my “to-read” list on August 22. Consulting my calendar, I can see that I had a pool day with a friend on that day last year. On those days we used to bring our unread magazines, so I now can conclude that there was a review in some magazine (likely Entertainment Weekly) that made it look interesting.
And this is how we know that we can’t necessarily trust reviews that you randomly find in magazines. At least, not from a writer who you are encountering for the first time. Because while the books was fine, and I didn’t dislike it…it didn’t call to me. There were also a number of things that bugged me:
- Like the fact that Kay thinks she invented fanfiction, and is also writing Seinfeld fanfic? If this book really takes place in 2014 or so like it purports…how is a preteen watching Seinfeld? Is that something that the kids really watch? Is it on as much as it was when I was 13 or so (every night), and is it really something that a 13 year old would choose to watch on Netflix if that’s really the most convenient place to watch it? Like…why Seinfeld? Why???
- There’s a strange break in the middle of the book which flashes forward and gives us all the information about what will happen in the future…and then takes us back to the present. This was confusing, and made me wonder if there were alternative timelines – like, it would have been really interesting if that was one possibility of how things could have worked out if things went unchecked from that point forward, but the novel is instead going to show us what really happened that’s a happier ending. Except it didn’t. It just told us where things were heading for the characters after all the content of the main story.
- This entire book feels like it’s more interested in the aftermath than it is in the actual events themselves. Yes – aftermath is interesting, but when everything is aftermath, nothing is plot. It was interesting, but I had a hard time sympathizing with the characters. How am I supposed to relate to characters who don’t seem to do anything, but are always reacting to shit blowing up (sometimes literally) around them?
- Beautifully written, but about an inch deep. We don’t get a sense of who Jack was in his adultery – what made him like this? The author tries to show us with descriptions of Jack’s childhood, but … eh?
- One of the reviews on Goodreads asks why we don’t hear more from the “other woman” whose letter opens the novel. Her letters sent to Deb are the impetus for everything that happens, but after that first bombshell, she’s essentially a non-entity. I think there may have been an “update” on where she went in her life, but we don’t get a real sense of how things came to their head. And again – we don’t care because it’s all reaction, and there’s no point to knowing what her life was like.
So that’s it. I don’t know – it was interesting? Sort of? Perhaps worth reading? Perhaps not? Are you bored in your reading list? Desperate for something? Think you might enjoy some lovely descriptions, but characters whose choices make you want to wring their necks? Perhaps this is the book for you…
Details: Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont, published 2015 by Random House