Joelle Egan's Reviews > We Have Everything Before Us: A Novel

We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-Ling Spodek
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bookshelves: edelweiss-review-copy

We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-Ling Spodek provides an unflinching, insightful and extremely relatable account of three intersecting lives at the crossroads of middle age. The connected stories of Eleanor, Phil and Kaye display different perspectives on this often-overlooked stage of life when the consequences of past decisions, actions (and inactions) come to fruition. Eleanor is bored, insecure and looking for validation and excitement when she contacts Phil, an old acquaintance from her high school days. Phil is in the middle of a messy separation as a result of some disastrous infidelities, and he suffers from an acute lack of self-awareness and a stunning inability to realize the destruction he leaves in his wake. Eleanor and Phil begin what may be the most stilted initiation to an affair imaginable, with some truly cringe-inducing interactions and scenes that Spodek skillfully portrays in all their agonizing awkwardness. Kaye, the third major character, is Eleanor’s friend who tries to dissuade her from this experimental dalliance. She is also struggling with her own ambivalence about leaving her family, lashing out by abusing alcohol and becoming increasingly aggressive in her expressions of discontent. All three characters are shown at points of crisis and are uncertain about how to proceed without causing further damage to themselves and those closest to them. Spodek captures their turmoil with inner monologues that are simultaneously lightly humorous, angrily barbed, soaked in regret, and yet still maintaining glimmers of hope. The result is a combination that makes for difficult but rewarding reading. The good news is that We Have Everything Before Us is more like a novella in length, each vignette is succinct, and the switching sections between characters help dissipate the tension. The bad news is that the characters are so wonderfully realistic and refreshingly honest that it leaves the reader wanting even more.

Thanks to the author, Gibson House Press and Edelweiss for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Reading Progress

February 2, 2020 – Started Reading
February 2, 2020 – Shelved
February 2, 2020 – Shelved as: edelweiss-review-copy
February 4, 2020 – Finished Reading

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