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3.39  ·  Rating details ·  4,277 ratings  ·  651 reviews
Grappling with motherhood, economic anxiety, rage, and the limits of language, Want is a fiercely personal novel that vibrates with anger, insight, and love.

Elizabeth is tired. Years after coming to New York to try to build a life, she has found herself with two kids, a husband, two jobs, a PhD―and now they’re filing for bankruptcy. As she tries to balance her dream and th
Hardcover, 209 pages
Published July 7th 2020 by Henry Holt & Co.
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Average rating 3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,277 ratings  ·  651 reviews

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Angela M
Oct 12, 2020 rated it liked it

Race, privilege, dysfunctional family relationships, imperfect friendships, the struggles of a working mother and wife who is depressed, so many unmet needs and wants - all packed into this novel. I found this to be such a depressing read. Depressing because most times there seems to be no way out, no way for thirty four year old Elizabeth to rise from all that is happening in her life, all that has happened. Depressing because she is depressed and anxious trying to deal with how to be a good mo
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
“I want to tell her that I’m scared I’m too wore out, worn down, that this constant anxious ache that I have now isn’t about my job or kids or all the ways life isn’t what it should be, that maybe it’s just me, it’s most of who I am.”

Imagine, if you will, the most extreme case of stream of consciousness you could possibly imagine, and that will give you some idea what it's like to read Want. Oddly though, I didn't hate it. In fact, it almost felt like a guilty pleasure as I flew thro
Proustitute (on hiatus)
Lynn Steger Strong's Want reads like a highly personal confession of various wants: the want of money and stability in one’s life and career; the want of providing more stability for one’s children, as well as support—emotional, financial, and otherwise—for one’s spouse; and also the want of creating lasting ties and friendships amid a world where technology has made us feel that people are closer, and yet has instead created gaps and chasms among people, even, in the narrator’s case here, her o ...more
Jessica Klahr
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite kind of books where I breezed through it in a couple days but there were countless points where I had to stop and appreciate a turn of phrase or a character trait description or something clever or the speaking of some truth that I identified with. The narration is in the present tense, with sections from past and present flowing together as one which had the beautiful effect of feeling like you’re in the main character’s stream of consciousness. It addressed the conce ...more
lark benobi
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: she-2020, 2020
A novel about being trapped in exactly the life you were privileged enough to lead. The narrator of this novel, 34 year old Elizabeth, is white and has a Ph.D., but she works as an adjunct and, without insurance, has been bankrupted by a Caesarian and bad teeth. Her husband has a few more degrees of freedom...but this isn't a novel of overt resentment over women's lives overrun by children an responsibilities, so much as it is a relentlessly truthful, ruthlessly intelligent story of a woman look ...more
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was ok

I feel like an asshole for not liking this book. I'm really tired of and not interested in reading books that showcase privileged-middle-class-NYC-straight/married-white women with rich parents perspectives. I kept hoping this would turn into a "lesbians reunited" love story with Sasha, but despite the narrator regularly describing Sasha in underwear, this never came to pass. Bummer.

This may have been to convey the narrator's depression, but whew boy, reading this book felt like star
Bill Kupersmith
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Could I write a fair review of Want without condescension? My professional career included everything the main character misses and wants, specifically a tenured professorship at a major research university. That of course is the life to which most PhD students aspire. Unfortunately in today’s educational world, only a small proportion of them obtain anything like it. Something like seventy per cent of teaching in American higher education is done by part-time temporary staff, teaching assistant ...more
3.5 stars: “Want” by Lynn Steger Strong is a contemporary story of a thirty-something mother of two who is in a “mid” Mid-life crisis. Well, it’s more of a “coming-of-age” into adulthood and the realities of adulthood that idealistic young-adults confront.

Our not named narrator until the last few pages, received an English PHD from Columbia, and now works as a high school English teacher in a NYC Charter School, after not getting a university professor job. She does have an adjunct teaching job
Paris (parisperusing)
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of Miranda Popkey, Halle Butler, Catherine Lacey
"All that talking, years of reading: There was a time I thought that all language might contain something of value, but most of life is flat and boring and the things we say are too. Or maybe it's that most of life is so much stranger than language is able to make room for, so we say the same dead things and hope maybe the who and how of what is said can make it into what we mean."

Lynn Steger Strong's latest novel, Want, opens in 2000 with a doting memory of our heroine, Elizabeth, at age 16, an
ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

2.5 Stars

This is a well-written story, but there was just something about it that I couldn’t connect to. It felt like there was so much internalization and many things felt unresolved. I really, really struggled with the writing style on this one. Some great books come from this publisher, so I didn’t hesitate to check out this new-to-me author, but the extremely internalized, subdued writing felt forced. That combined with a lackluster plot and a couple of frustrating elements have me dropping
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
I guess I've expected something else. The style is very dry and maybe even bad? Some sentences are not grammatically understandable, and not in the fun experimental way. Also, what is it with people not naming their characters thinking it will somehow make the book deeper? Oh, and there was a lot of nursing. I ain't got kids, but should a child still be nursed on her third birthday? the book is chock-full with references to intellectual fiction, to make the reader feel cultured I guess. This eff ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is basically an endless rant of a white priviliged woman who has two kids. She constantly worries about how she can't make meets end although she dislikes her job and is the most unprofessional person on earth. She also says she refuses her parents' money but it actually seems they don't want to give her anymore because she nor her husband ever seem to get their sh*t together. There's also some rambling about a former friend who she's now stranged to because she bailed on her when she ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a woman juggling two jobs and two kids while she and her husband are filing for bankruptcy; one of her oldest friendships keeps coming to mind for reasons that become more clear. It's kind of like Severance without the zombies, with the added responsibility of children, but the same daily grind feeling.

I actually enjoyed it, a very strong capture of the 2010s especially in more expensive places like NYC. I read it because it is on the Tournament of Books long list, it was sh
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once proclaimed that “Everything that lives, suffers. There you have the essence of existence. Why this suffering? Because there is WANT: to live is to want, to want is to suffer. If there is a curse on man, it is that!!”

While I don’t agree with his statement as a whole – particularly the “essence of existence”, which in my opinion is a bit of a melodramatic overreach – it’s difficult not to find merit within the crux of his argument. To live is t
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
A mostly nameless narrator talks about her wants. She’s unhappy in her job and she and her husband have filed for bankruptcy. They have no money to do much of anything. She does seem to like spending time with her children, though, who she refers to as the 2-year-old and the 4-year-old. Long blocks of text go by in which she refers to others as “she” which made it very difficult for me to remember who she was talking about.

I guess this is the new avant-garde style of writing where hardly anyone
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5+ out of 5.
Wow I absolutely devoured this, almost in a single breath. It's the story of a woman trying to eke out a living in New York in our painful present: she and her husband have declared bankruptcy, she's got a bad relationship with her parents, she's a teacher stuck in the bullshit education system this country have developed, she's got two kids, and she's still grappling with leaving her best friend when they were younger.
In a lot of ways, it's another of these "Who Will Run the Frog H
3.5 stars

Want is a reflection on what people take for granted. Elizabeth, the main character, has a husband and family, and is an educator. Her husband worked in finance before the 2008 Economic Crisis, but has now been working with his hands. As Elizabeth ventures to work each day, she starts to slowly unravel and question her lifestyle. To make matters worse, Elizabeth and her husband are filing for bankruptcy. As mentioned above, this book is like holding up a mirror to the reader and tel
Kasa Cotugno
On the surface, it would seem like Elizabeth, the heroine of Lynn steger Strong's novel WANT, has the world figured out if she only would stop navel gazing and be thankful for her blessings. Her life is enviable by any measure, but it is Strong's honesty and her ability to present the inner life of this woman so clearly that keeps the reader riveted. Here are the facts -- growing up in Florida, Elizabeth had a privileged childhood, followed by Columbia degrees and a life in Brooklyn, while she t ...more
Madeline Stevens
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I needed to read. Read it in a single day, but I'm still over here thinking about it. The struggle of being a woman right now is dealt with fiercely but with such finesse. Haven't found something I've connected with this much in a while. ...more
Jul 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: lit-fun
I found myself agonizing about this review. About drawing a line between not liking a main character and not liking the author's work. (Not liking is a mild way of putting it). But then, as I progressed with my reading, the line blurred, as the sloppiness of the writing matched the sloppiness of the narrator/ character.

This book is based on the life of the author (most family and professional life details of the narrator are the same as those of the author), but the text is full of inconsistenc
Shannun Boggs
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book I scrolled through the previous ratings and comments. I wasn’t surprised by the mixed reception. In my opinion I thought the author was extremely “real” with the internal dialogue and found myself relating to the narrator’s anguish while teaching in the public school system in our country. We are truly dealing with a broken system losing our best educators at an alarming rate. This system doesn’t prepare students to be analytical problem solvers and independent thinkers b ...more
Jennifer Blankfein
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Full review to come on Book Nation by Jen.
Many months ago, before this book was even out, I attended a zoom event with several female authors. I’m certain I attended for someone else whose book I’d already read and loved but all I remember now from the event was hearing Lynn read part of Want. I remember that I liked its domestic-ness and the way it probed at the inner life of a rather ordinary woman in real world, ordinary but difficult circumstances. Basically, I had been looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this book for ...more
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
The protagonist of this novel is smart, a good mother and teacher, but also is depressed, financially insecure, and at times self-sabotaging. She and her husband must declare bankruptcy at the beginning of the story and their security teeters on the brink of collapse. As she's working two jobs (as an adjunct professor and as a high school teacher at a corporate-owned charter school that believes its sole purpose is test preparation), she spends a great deal of time ruminating on a past friendshi ...more
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WANT is a novel that situates the reader under the skin of a mother of two with a PhD, too many teaching jobs, fractured relationships with her parents and friends, a husband struggling to build a business, and pending bankruptcy. It’s wrenching and fevered and loving. I felt like I was living in this book as the challenges and setbacks piled up again and again without much reprieve. This layered feeling of constant anxiety pushes at the fraught limits of love, ambition, success, and desire. Her ...more
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Strong depicts a privileged white woman futzing and dithering in post Lehman Brothers era New York City. Enjoyable in parts, but it felt like the book lacked a center, and the ending was contrived.
Tracy Greer- Hansen
Dec 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
The best parts of this book is that it has a beautiful cover, it was short and it is over.

I read this book but am not sure what the plot or point of it was. This was the only thing that kept me going or wanting to finish this. Sadly, it was a waste of time.

The main character, Elizabeth is depressed and anxious. She is facing a bankruptcy with her husband, she sloughs off her job and overall I find her lazy and unlikeable.
She quits her job (wow!) and they are so broke her husband considers sel
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was well written but so angsty. Basically every possible bad thing happens to the protagonist, with mounting urgency. I felt stressed and trapped just reading it. Wouldn’t recommend during a pandemic + prolonged election.
Samantha Colwell
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a study of comparative sadness, of motherhood and friendship, of needing someone and needing the idea of someone. It’s so many wonderful things all wrapped up neatly in one short novel that I ate up rapidly. Strong’s writing is intimate, clear and honest. I felt devastated and at times relieved to know that there are characters who can feel the same things I do, at my most shameful, my most avoidant. I loved Want, and I could read literature like this over and over again and discove ...more
While we know that every decade endures significant cultural shifts and societal prescriptions, it is the plight of the eighties child that expectations do not always meet with reality. Such is the case for Elizabeth.

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Lynn Steger Strong was born and raised in South Florida and received an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University where she also taught Freshman Writing. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two small girls.

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Someday, this year will end! And with the ringing in of 2021, we will come to the end of this year's Goodreads Reading Challenge. Of course,...
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“We were just privileged enough to think that we could live outside the systems and the structures and survive it, but we failed.” 2 likes
“We are very good at desperate emails tinged with self-destruction. Hers are more active, more interactive. We have lives that look concretely, wholly separate, lives that, if one were to track back to the causes, to the feelings and the thinking, might feel largely the same. My depression is the flattest; it’s so boring; it’s all inward—in books, at least, as well as in her emails, the characters all do things. They have too much sex; they drink; they travel and their lives at least are filled with stories that they might tell later when they’re older and they’re better, when they’re the grown-up versions of these unformed, reckless things. I envy her these stories, their shape and texture, the concreteness of her self-destruction. She is looked at, and because she’s looked at, she lives her anger and her sadness out loud and people see; I disappear and so slip down and under. I, sporadically, quite violently, try to be seen and am then further knocked down by how completely that effort fails.” 2 likes
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