Z's Reviews > White Teeth

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
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Jun 12, 11

bookshelves: 2011

It's taken me over a year since the date I bought this book to actually finish it. I tried, I did. Every few months I'd pick it up and attack it again where I'd left off. When I was finally done with it a few days ago, I primarily felt an overwhelming sense of relief - I'd given this much-lauded book a fair chance to impress me, and it had failed.

Smith's writing has many redeeming qualities, I readily admit. Her choice of words, her ability to caricature, and her grasp of the many facets of multiculturalism are all laudable, especially in one so young. But while this book succeeds as a piece of well-written prose, it fails at being a well-told story.

I wish Smith had spent more time on each character, fleshing it out, helping us - as another reviewer here has remarked - actually "like" each one, or at least some of them. By the end of the book, I felt like I'd been a mere spectator all along, not really part of the characters' lives (really good storytellers make you feel what the characters are feeling, make your spine shiver when they're frightened and make you cringe when they do something embarrassing). Not to mention the book could've been about 50 pages shorter than it actually is - the whole FutureMouse business, while an interesting way to wind things up, was also a premise that was worn too thin by the end of the book and got me into a state of "Oh, just get ON with the damn thing already."

3 on 5 because this while this novel itself could have been much better, we do see flashes of genius from the writer and the promise of better things to come.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Betz Great review of a tough book. I read this maybe seven or eight years ago and while I loved the prose, I was never able to really connect to the material.

It's definitely one of those books that because of all its accolades that I feel like I "should" have liked more than I did.

Madame Von Bee Just finished it and took me forever to read too. Gave up on it quite early on but when I came back to it, something made me determined to keep going, though it took months, on and off. I agree with 3 stars. Parts of it are excellent and deserve more stars but, overall, it was too much of a struggle to get to the end, though I am glad I read it all.

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