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The Humanity Project

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  1,326 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
After surviving a shooting at her high school, Linnea is packed off to live with her estranged father, Art, who doesn’t quite understand how he has suddenly become responsible for raising a sullen adolescent girl. Art’s neighbor, Christie, is a nurse distracted by an eccentric patient, Mrs. Foster, who has given Christie the reins to her Humanity Project, a bizarre and wel ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Blue Rider Press
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Mar 23, 2013 Donna rated it liked it
I wanted to like The Humanity Project. It is beautifully written, and many of the characters really tugged at my heartstrings, but in the end, there were some things that just didn't work for me.

The book starts out very well. A 15-year-old girl, Linnea, witnesses a shooting at her high school, which takes the life of her hated step-sister. Because her mother can't seem to handle Linnea's post-shooting emotions, she is shipped off to live with Art, the father she has never known. There she comes
Jan 02, 2017 Kathrina rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
Loved this book from its opening sentence to its last. Like sitting in the driver's seat of an automated car, I had every confidence that Thompson would get us where we were going, all I had to do was enjoy the view as it rolled past. If nothing else, the structure of this novel is a thing of beauty, but the characters are spot on, too.
Some goodreaders are complaining that this novel asks a question about whether we can pay people to be good, and that the novel doesn't pay it back and answer
Jun 15, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
Virtually all the characters in The Humanity Project are in the process of redefining who they are and what it means to be human. They’re lonely, adrift, down on their luck, trying to reinvent themselves…even rename themselves.

Jean Thompson is first and foremost an outstanding short story writer, and in these sketches, her key talent shows through. There’s Linnea, a damaged teenager who is exiled from her home to live with her absent birth father after she witnesses the school shooting of her ha
Mar 24, 2013 Jackie rated it liked it
I think I would actually give it 2.5 stars. It had a good premise and I liked how the characters all sort of connected in a haphazard way. However, I kept waiting for the two young characters to connect better...better conversations, confidements, etc and never really got that. Also, I kept waiting for them to be connected through the "Humanity Project" I kept expecting the project itself to benefit and change their lives and it doesn't, it kind of sits int he background. Some of the characters ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Mandy rated it did not like it
This book just annoyed me. With a title like "The Humanity Project" I had high hopes. So disappointed.

The characters in the book had so many "worldly" problems I groaned many times, rolled my eyes, and just felt aggravated with every single one of the characters. The author makes light of God and religion and turns these problems as real problems (which they are, but so many could be avoided) so that just annoyed me too.

The author tied everything up nicely at the end. I guess. Not worth the rea
Mar 01, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: advance-copies
I’m not good at going to a store and randomly picking a piece of fiction to read. I often decide what to read next due to it either being well reviewed or having a friend with good literary taste recommend it. I find I’m far better at predicting if I’ll like a non-fiction title just by reading the blurb on the back, so this being a fiction title that had yet been released made me nervous.

Much to my relief, I enjoyed this book from cover-to-cover. I didn’t know what to expect with its descriptor
Jun 04, 2013 Anne-marie rated it liked it
I'm really confused by this book. Overall, I liked it, although the title I think is somewhat misleading as is the description of the book. I'm not sure why they chose to call it The Humanity Project, as it seems like very little of the book actually has to do with this. I kept waiting for it to be a more integral part of the story and it didn't happen. Also it talked about the mission of this foundation and the possibility of paying people to be good, and that went absolutely no where. So... I ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Wesley rated it it was ok
Let the Great World Spin, A Visit from the Goon Squad, all the novels that have landed on the shelves in bookshops riding the wave of the Emotional and Surprising Power of Our Intertwining Fates. I get it. And I'll admit to having gone into this having been unable to get into Thompson's writing in the past despite it being assured and well-crafted but the characters never transformed from names on the page into anyone I could care about, let alone in whom I could invest.
Nov 14, 2013 Aharon rated it it was ok
Poor copy editing, magical minorities, first world problems, and nonsense.
Larry H
Apr 23, 2013 Larry H rated it liked it
I'd rate this book 3.5 stars.

It takes a skilled author to create flawed characters that interest you and cause you to empathize with them even if you don't necessarily sympathize with them. But in Jean Thompson's new novel, The Humanity Project, a meditation on the flaws that make us human and an examination of whether or not we can redeem ourselves after doing something wrong, she does just that. I don't know that I'd want to spend any appreciable amount of time with any of these characters, bu
Jan 06, 2013 Shannon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Can you pay people to be good? If so, what would it cost?

Jean Thompson's newest novel, The Humanity Project, poses these questions before introducing a wide array of drastically different characters bound together with lose connections. Most of the story centers around Linnea, a teenage girl thrown off course by the shooting that takes place in her high school. Her reactionary, wild behavior causes her mother to send Linnea across the country to live with her father, Art, who she barely knows. C
Apr 09, 2013 Neal rated it really liked it
Picked as one of our Amazon Best Book of the Month. In my Amazon review I wrote:
When a school shooting sends a damaged teen named Linnea to live with her lazy, pot-smoking father in California, she becomes immersed in a world in which everyone nurses a deep sense of economic doom and financial hopelessness. “Times were bad for everybody, everybody had it coming” writes Thompson. And this: “The world was one big goddam banana peel, waiting for you to slip on it.” One character feels like “they’
Patrice Hoffman
Jan 23, 2013 Patrice Hoffman rated it really liked it
The Humanity Project is a very moving novel that relates the stories of the characters in larger story that encompasses hope, redemption, love, and resiliance. The characters in this novel include Linnea, who after surviving a high school shooting, is sent to live with her estranged father, Art, in an effort to assuage her guilt. Sean, the single father of Connor, is addicted to painkillers after an extremely serious car accident leaves him wondering what happened to his self and the driver of t ...more
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Jul 06, 2013 Melissa Lee-Tammeus rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
This book is a snippet of lives that intersect with one another to ultimately tell a story of our fragile human qualities. The characters are appealing - a daughter who witnesses a shooting at her school, whose father is quite clumsy in the area of relationships, who has a neighbor who nurses a lonely rich woman who begins a foundation that helps a homeless man who is the father of a son who struggles to make it in the world who dates a girl who has moved in with her father after she witnesses a ...more
Sue Heraper
Feb 20, 2013 Sue Heraper rated it really liked it
The plot revolves around the messy lives of two Northern California divorced single fathers who each are raising a teenager. Sean's house is going into foreclosure as he struggles to find work and battles his addition to painkillers after an accident. His son Conner tries petty thievery before he is given employment doing odd jobs for a wealthy widow, Mrs. Foster. Art, a part-time college instructor, has played no part in his daughter Linnea's life until she moves in with him after becoming a di ...more
May 17, 2013 Alecia rated it liked it
I really enjoy and admire Jean Thompson's prose. I kept reading this book because of that. But, for the book as a whole, I'm not sure what to make of the unending sadness, unhappiness, and misery of the characters. Life certainly has those periods for everyone, but reading this is not a cheery proposition. There were times that the writing and story lines reminded me of something that T.Coraghessan Boyle might have done. This is not a bad reference, as I also like Boyle's writing a lot.

The diff
Deon Stonehouse
Jean Thompson has a way of getting to the heart of her characters, flawed people trying to do their best in a world not always kind. Here she shifts perspective from individuals, linked through proximity or circumstance. Linnea survives a shooting at her high school; she is left feeling guilty and tarnished by her enmity to one of the victims. She is sent to live with her father, Art, a man unprepared for and confused by the challenges in raising a troubled teenager on his own. Art lives next do ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Jody rated it liked it
I liked it. I didn't love it, and I don't think it'll be a book that lingers with me for years and years. Thompson does a good job with her many characters, and each one seems strong and distinct. The problem was I didn't get to know any of them well enough. Her narrative skips around between at least five characters, at times leaving one in a cliff-hanger chapter ending that's resolved off-stage (or not referred to again).

The book does bring up questions about humanity and exactly how far we ar
Jun 17, 2013 Rayme rated it really liked it
A deceptively simple novel that reads as a succinct and modern Dickens tale. I enjoyed the story and Thompson's writing very much. Highly recommend. I'm going to go and read Thompson's other novels now--I'm excited to have found her work.
Feb 18, 2013 Tara rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book in a goodreads first reads giveaway.

A surprisingly optimistic story, for a novel that begins with a school shooting. Lots of very distinct/memorable/sometimes eccentric characters, even the minor ones. My only real issue is that I felt the epilogue was maybe a bit too tidy.
Sarah Sullivan
May 25, 2013 Sarah Sullivan rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fare
I'll be thinking about this book for a long time. Really well written, compelling characters, sad but not interminably. Recommended.
Reading For Sanity
Sep 16, 2013 Reading For Sanity rated it it was ok
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David Small
May 19, 2017 David Small rated it really liked it
I love this book! Is it perfect? No. But really terrific books rarely are. Thompson creates an unforgettable teenager whose killer sarcasm is absolutely perfect. And I will never forget what happens to the poor dude who goes a date with a woman he finds on the internet.
Courtney Riscica
Jul 17, 2017 Courtney Riscica rated it did not like it
This might win for worst book read this summer. I kept reading it though- waiting for something to actually happen with these loosely connected characters. It really didn't.
Mar 09, 2017 Tiffany rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 20, 2013 Johnny rated it really liked it
While reading this novel, the structure constantly reminded me of that Robert Altman film Short Cuts where we follow various components of seemingly disparate characters’ storylines that all intertwine with each other a meaningful way that is really only ever revealed to the audience instead of the characters themselves. It’s an older version of what contemporary authors are doing in books like Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. Instead of encapsulated short stories each with its own t ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
May 21, 2013 Lori L (She Treads Softly) rated it really liked it
Jean Thompson's latest novel, The Humanity Project, follows the lives of several forlorn people in the Bay area. Sean and Connor, his son, are about to lose their home. Sean is handyman who is unable to find enough work to support them. Then, after contacting a woman on Craig's List, he is in a mysterious car accident that leaves him in even worse condition. Now he is crippled and unable to work. Connor has to give up his dreams of higher education. He turns to petty theft and ends up becoming a ...more
Bruce Stern
Apr 27, 2013 Bruce Stern rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
In the first few chapters we’re introduced to what begins primarily as three groups of Mill Valley, California folks: a mostly unemployed pain-killer dependent father and his high school senior son, in the middle of losing their home to foreclosure; a well-off elderly couple, the husband of whom dies, leaving a widow free to think and then act on her idea of rewarding virtue; and, the 15-year-old, Linnea, daughter of a partly-employed teacher father who for thirteen years was completely
Apr 13, 2013 Arianna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, audible, aoma

Dear Reader,

For some reason, I was REALLY eager to read this book for quite some time when it first came out. But, when I finally got my hands on it, it was nothing like I was expecting. I loved the idea of examining the philosophy behind what makes a person do good in the world, but the story itself was kind of ... superficial. Very interesting how the book revolves quite a bit around a school shooting, which feels still a little soon and a bit too raw for a lot of people these da
Apr 09, 2013 Kay rated it liked it
Shelves: adult

Was this a good book? Yes. Was it an epic book? No. Maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I tired writing this review several times to make it coherent, so I apologize in advance if it is still kind of hard to follow.

Thompson writes beautiful prose and that is my favorite aspect of The Humanity Project. It captivated me from the very beginning. The writing really spoke to me. My second favorite thing is the characters. They are unique and interesting, each having their own problem they are trying
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Jean Thompson is a New York Times bestselling author and her new novel, The Humanity Project will be published by Blue Rider Press on April 23, 2013.

Thompson is also the author of the novel The Year We Left Home, the acclaimed short fiction collections Do Not Deny Me, and Throw Like a Girl as well as the novel City Boy; the short story collection Who Do You Love, and she is a 1999 National Book
More about Jean Thompson...

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“You wanted to believe that getting older, growing up, would change everything, transform you into the amazing person you were meant to be. But what if it didn't? What if you had to stay you forever?” 6 likes
“We were afraid of so many things: Of our children, who lived in their own world of casually lurid pleasures, zombies and cartoon killers and thuggish music. Of our neighbors, who were buying gold and ammunition and great quantities of freeze-dried food, and who were organizing themselves into angry tribes recognizable to one another by bumper stickers.” 5 likes
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