AJ LeBlanc's Reviews > Amy and Isabelle

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
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's review
Dec 17, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: chick-lit

An amazing read! Takes place around the early 1970s, but reads as if it were today. Isabelle is a single mom raising 16 year old Amy in a small, gossipy mill town. The two have a common mother/daughter relationship of sometimes love and sometimes hate. The book starts out looking at the lives of the two, but slowly branches out to include many of the women in the town.

Strout has a gift for developing characters that are so complete you wonder if they actually exist. Everyone has their flaws and strengths, and as the early foreshadowing reveals itself throughout the book, you find yourself sympathizing and being frustrated with many of the characters.

The heart of the book is Amy's awakening sexuality and the secrets that daughters keep from their mothers. While this has been written about before and will be written about until the end of time, Strout takes the familiar and uses it to force Isabelle to examine her own life and choices, leading her down a new path she didn't even realize was there.

Another thing I liked about this book was the stories within the stories. What at first may seem disjointed and a simple passing observation will later become a major conflict or plot change. In a lesser writer's hands, these would have been convenient fall backs to get to the end of the book, but with Strout, you feel like she crafted a puzzle and has carefully chosen what pieces you will see and when. It's not until the end of the book when you can step back and see the entire picture.

This isn't a happy book, it's not a tear inducing tragedy, but instead it's a beautifully crafted piece of realistic fiction. Highly recommended!
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04/02/2016 marked as: read

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