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Us by David Nicholls
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it was ok

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Ah, the Petersons. What a set of messed up hooligans. Here is the central issue with why everyone just can't quite get along: Douglas is a hapless scientist, who just wants everyone to like him. Connie is artistic, dreamy, messy, and doesn't like to be shown the concrete of things all the time. Albie, their son, takes after Connie. Plus, he's a teenager, so he's got that not going for him.

Everyone annoys each other here, and they all ganged up to annoy me as a reader.

Now, Nicholls also wrote One Day, a heartbreaking, interestingly formatted novel about two people who just can't stay apart. It was made into a meh movie with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess (that guy from Across the Universe). Nicholls was great with that one.

And in this one...I hated everyone. Which bums me out to say, but...every single one of the Petersons is awful. At first I thought it was just Connie and Albie. They were downright terrible to Douglas! And they were pretty awful people. I could give a little leeway to Albie because he was a Teenage Character going through a "Phase" (you know, the stereotypical one where one hates ones parents, although in this case he only really hates Douglas). But Connie...she looks down on her husband with derision throughout the entire novel. Any expression of affection is done in a pitying way. Even during flashbacks, where we supposedly see the days they were the most happiest, she's a stuck up woman who thinks Douglas is merely cute and clever. Whereas Douglas is just besotted, and perpetually in a can't-believe-a-woman-this-beautiful-could-be-into-me state of mind.

When Douglas messes up, Connie and Albie join in on shaking their heads, locking their doors, shutting him out. At no point in the novel did I sympathize with either of them. Why would Douglas want to keep these kind of poisonous relationships around, is what I actually thought at one point. Bad, I know.

And then I didn't like Douglas. Because he's just so darn affable. He wants so very badly to make this all right (when he's done actually very little to deserve such derision), that he steps over the line of sympathy. At just the moment I was about to give up on him (and, perhaps, the book), he does start to build up a spine. He rallies. He goes after something. Which had me cheering for him again. Okay, I thought. I could get behind this character. I could want him to be happy again, even if its with these nasty people. But even that's not enough. Because Douglas is like a sad puppy. And when someone shows that they don't like him again, he goes back to being a doormat. The ending is a sad, flat note on a family that already had a dismal outlook.
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Reading Progress

November 2, 2014 – Started Reading
November 2, 2014 – Shelved
November 2, 2014 –
page 280
November 3, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Ali (new)

Ali Rose I thoroughly enjoyed reading it but all along felt exactly as you felt. The mother made the son toxic, like herself. And the husband was too normal, (for lack of a better word to describe him), to spot the toxicity. Given what we both felt about the characters, the final page was probably just right! Still, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Louise Pleased to find I wasn't the only person who disliked them all !

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