Diane's Reviews > At Weddings and Wakes

At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott
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's review
Oct 01, 2012

liked it
Read in September, 2012

Intriguing temporal/structural strategies in this book, kind of like a Rubik's cube. But the atmosphere of it was SO claustrophobic! I kind of hurried to get through it so I could get out of there, as I was feeling suffocated by the details as filtered (and often repeated) through child-consciousness. And not just one child, but three, experiencing their family stories in a way that winds up holding the emotional impact of the family dramas at a distance. So I found out what happened, but as through a glass darkly. I'm sure it captured the mood of time and place and this particular family, but . . . whew! Relieved to be done with it, in the way I was relieved as a child that the drive was over, or school was out. She really does capture what that feels like to be so flooded and fascinated and baffled by the minutiae of experience, so at the mercy of surrounding adults, so likely to make innocent errors you're desperate to avoid, so often trapped and . . . that word again . . . suffocated by family and culture's expectations, rules, scrutiny, judgments and demands. I gave it 3 stars, but 2.5 would be more accurate. Teetering on the edge.

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