Erin's Reviews > Arcadia

Arcadia by Lauren Groff
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Apr 17, 12

Read from April 11 to 14, 2012

Wow. I have really mixed feelings about this book. I picked it up because the premise really intrigues me: life on a hippie commune, who's not curious about that?? But I was pretty ungripped during the first part of the book, when the protagonist, Bit - the first child born on said commune - is very young. I found the author's observational style almost too removed; it made me not feel very connected to the characters. There wasn't a lot of plot to be found in the first 100 or so pages, either.

But as the commune grew, things began to happen, which I won't give away, but they made the book much more interesting. Soon I found myself dog-earring pages with quotes that really grabbed me, like this one:

"Childhood is such a delicate tissue; what they had done this morning could snag somewhere in the little ones, make a dull, small pain that will circle back again and again, and hurt them in small ways for the rest of their lives."

Beautiful, right?

Or this:

"He...wishes that she could have been different than she was, a thinker; or, better, that he could have relaxed his personal code and pretended to be a different man than he is, even for the space of one night."

Sometimes Goff's writing made my head vibrate with delight and recognition; other times it left me cold, like I was not in on the joke. It's always lyrical, but sometimes annoyingly obscure.

As the book evolves and Bit grows up, the issues he faces - freedom versus community, nature versus modernization, global disease - really began to resonate with me. I found myself unable to put the book down for the last 100 or so pages, which surprised me given my initial feelings about it. I ended up really likng it; it made me think, which is the best possible thing a book can do. I loved that certain passages or quotes would make me stop reading so I could roll them around in my mind...

I'm still not sure if I would recommend it, although ultimately I'm really glad I read it.
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