Field Notes: The Hole We’re in by Gabrielle Zevin

A new feature I want to try out is “Field Notes.” The goal is to provide a review, a target audience, and some of the themes and issues in the book without giving a full-out review.

First up: Gabrielle Zevin’s The Hole We’re In. You know her name from the teen lit arena, including hits like Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. This is her first foray into adult novels.

This is a mega-contemporary book featuring a family spending too much money, lying to cover up, the Iraq war,
post-traumatic stress disorder, popular culture, and the way we learn lessons from our past and inform our future.

Time periods change in this book, from the 1990s, to 2006, to 2012, and even further in the future.

The book’s tone reminded me a bit of a Jane Smiley novel, but I found the writing itself more friendly. Some of the tone in the novel was reminiscent, too, of Douglas Coupland, particularly when it came to the working world and to living life.

The Hole We’re In will appeal to those with an interest in family drama and contemporary situations. I’ve read other reviews mention the terrible cover, but I LOVE it. It perfectly suits George and Roger and the facade.

Writing here is sparse, and we only get glimpses into the characters. Years often pass with little action; this is realistically portrayed.

Zevin’s attempt at adult fiction is well-done and worth the read. It will withstand the test of time, despite the contemporary situations. Though there are a lot of “issues” at work here, it works. It never feels forced or punishing as many can.

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