Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Life and Other Inconveniences: A Novel by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences: A Novel. Kristan Higgins. Penguin Publishing Group.  August 2019. pb, 448 pp.; ISBN: 9780451489425.

Genevieve London has had a successful life but a very unhappy one.  She lost her son Sheppard who suddenly disappeared and wasn’t found even after many years.  Then her husband died.  She raised her granddaughter Emma after the suicide death of Emma’s mother.  Emma became pregnant at 18 years old and gave birth to Riley, the joy of her life, but Genevieve threw Emma out of the house.

Emma hasn’t communicated with Genevieve once in many years but now receives a message to come as her grandmother is dying.  It’s a perfect time to go to Sheerwater, Connecticut as Riley is being harassed by so-called friends in High School. However, Emma thinks she owes her grandmother nothing and doesn’t want to seem like she’s waiting for Genevieve to die so she can inherit her fortune.  She finally agrees to go for Riley’s sake and let her daughter decide what she thinks about this relative she’s never known.

This then is the story of a family who will be reunited, get to know each other as they are in today’s world, and plan for a future.  It’s a lovely story with some very funny moments.  Riley and Genevieve get along and become very close and Genevieve puts up with Riley’s snappy retorts and frankly cold comments about the way Genevieve treats family.   Emma, on the other hand, finds work at a local home, where her sister Hope is a resident, and meets a man who’s trying to be a single parent of a daughter who’s a pro at throwing long, long tantrums.

The story is narrated from the perspective of each character which fills in details about the inner characters as well as some mysterious gaps for the reader.  This is a straight-from-the hip account in which the inner thoughts and feelings of each character stands out to form a complete story.  Genevieve is grateful for the presence of her family as she is gradually declining from brain cancer and has short and long periods of losing awareness of where and who she is, as well as about those around her.   The end is a surprise but a welcome one as relationships fall the way they will, without any false expectations!  Very nice tale skillfully presented!

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