Author: Anne Tyler
Publishing Date: 2016
As I have often told my readers, I am a PAINFULLY honest reviewer. Initially, I hated this book. It was a difficult read and was slow going. I had a hard time keeping my attention focused. I couldn’t stand Kate, who had a horrible attitude and outlook on everything. She is bitter, blunt, and at time cold-hearted. Aside from her love for gardening I couldn’t imagine Kate liking, much less loving, anything in this life. As I continued to read, I did begin to ask myself, “Is Kate horrible because she is, or is she horrible because she’s hurting?” She proceeded to be immature at times, even participating in arguments with 4-year-olds. I couldn’t fathom loving this protagonist. Each passing page begun to answer my question. Eventually we got to see that Kate does in fact have a heart. She even admires a few of her students! It seems more and more that Kate struggles with authority, and adults of her age. It’s shocking at times how childish she is.
The book introduces us to her Father, who is not well-rounded in the least. Married to his work, he’s rarely home, and often forgetful. He’s far more interested in his career than in his family by the looks of things. Maybe this is why Kate is so awful? Growing up without a mother, and having an absent Father can be difficult, I imagine. Within the same household we’re also introduced to her “air-head” sister, Bunny. I had a hard time not gagging when her Father called her “bun-buns.” Bunny is selfish, immature, and boy-crazy. How surprising for a 15-year-old character with an absentee father, and dead mother! Not.
Here’s where the story begins to become interesting. Pyoter Shcherbakov, 3-year-running assistant to Dr. Batista (aka Father,) foreigner, and generally a jolly man enters into the picture! He’s outgoing, kind, and to Kate- disgustingly annoying. Kate continues to be rude and bitter through a good portion of the story. Can she possibly remain unhappy? The book takes unexpected twists and turns, hearts melt, hearts harden, and the world is suddenly much different than it was prior to Pyotr entering the picture.
As I stated before, I hated this book- that is, until I loved it. Towards the end of the book I was craving more, smiling ear to ear, and was pleased that I pushed through my initial emotions toward the book. I came to realize it wasn’t the book I hated, because Anne’s writing is wonderful. It was Kate. I hated Kate and her attitude so much that I was struggling to read the book. I cannot reiterate enough how happy I am that I finished this book, and once you get your hands on it- you will be, too!