Colleen O'Neill Conlan's Reviews > Goldengrove

Goldengrove by Francine Prose
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Apr 20, 12

bookshelves: novels
Read in April, 2012

I found this as a book-on-disc, on the remainder table when I had a long drive ahead of me. I've read a couple other Prose books and liked them so grabbed this one. I don't listen to a lot of books, so maybe I would have liked this better had I read it. Hearing it aloud, some of the dialogue seemed to go on too long (needlessly), and the "he said," "she said," "I said" - those things that your eyes can rush past in print - seemed intrusive. But the reader, Mamie Gummer, seemed to exactly capture what a bright and grieving 13-year-old should sound like.

In a sense, the characters seemed like types: the carefree, musical daughter with her "little Adonis" artist boyfriend and careful, adoring, science/math geek little sister. After Margaret's untimely death, the others in the book are pretty much cut loose to fend for themselves. A little drug use here, a little hint at a possible affair there, and small lies through and through. The most unsettling thing is Nico's growing friendship with Margaret's bereft boyfriend. Unsettling what grief will make someone do, and make another accept, against her better judgment. They share a moment that seemed momentarily tense-bordering-on-creepy, but in the end, not much happens.

In fact, outside of the tragedy at the start of the book, really, not much happens. There are hints of things happening, maybe, but we never really know, and nothing feels cataclysmic. And maybe that's the point, that there is much we can't know, much that simply can't be resolved, that life simply continues on with its minor dramas. The ending seemed a little too pat for my taste, and too abrupt. I thought there had to be one more disc. But no, that was it. It ends on a hopeful little updraft, with a couple sub plots left floating. Like life.

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