Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bookshelf: Julia Glass


Not many people understand the love I have for my bed. On a typical sunday, beach weather not withstanding, I am likely to remain in bed until well after noon. Sometimes even until three, depending on whether I am in the midst of a good book. I can't say exactly what it is, either the perfect combination of firm and cushy in the mattress, the egyptian cotton sheets or maybe it's the curtains I have that block any and all light from entering the room. Either way, it's my favorite location, especially for reading.
This morning (I had the day off to spend with my sister who's on vacation), after errands, she turned on the TV and I crawled back in bed to finish reading "I See You Everywhere". I only had ten or so pages left and I didn't want to rush through it so I curled up and took my time.
Julia Glass has won a bevy of awards including the National Book Award for Fiction for her book "Three Junes" but I'm surprised that "I See You Everywhere" hasn't won an award. I don't say that lightly. Glass captures an aspect of sisterhood between Clement and Louisa Jardine that mirrors my relationship with my own sister. We love each other dearly but there's always a separation that has to do with communication and even a bit of competition.
Glass introduces us to the sisters in 1980 when Louisa is in her midtwenties and coming home to the Northeast to see Clem (still in college) shortly after a family member's passing. Right off the bat there is a tension that at any moment seems about to break into a wonderful heartfelt moment. And yet it never quite does. They always hold each other slightly at bay as they progress in their individual lives over the next twenty five years.
There is so much up and down that an individual (not to mention a family) goes through over two and a half decades, but to be honest, what I enjoyed most were the less dramatic stories that colored the girls' lives. It was the simple interactions, often when Louisa was meeting Clem's current main squeeze, that I found myself relating with and reveling in. Louisa is the steady dependable older sister while Clem is the tree-hugging, man-loving younger sister. While Glass makes them such different people you still see the love between them. It's not a blatant love where they're always saying their feelings out loud, but it showed in the way they handled each curveball thrown at the family.
There was a twist at the end, actually a few twists throughout, that I never saw coming. I felt completely blindsided. But that was the point. You think you know your family like they are a physical part of you, but you don't have control over what happens. You don't always win at life. And while I would have loved a happy peachy-keen ending (I mean who wouldn't) I think the way the story leaves off is a good place and one that made sense for the overall story.
I love how Glass created very different voices for Clem and Louisa. They were unique and completely different in their beliefs and the way they lived their lives.
I really enjoyed stepping into the Jardine sisters' lives (if only for a week - for me) and if you enjoy literary fiction and stories about familial relationships(especially the drama of sisters) I highly recommend picking up "I See You Everywhere". It's a quick read, partially from the fact that you bounce back and forth between sisters' lives. Go pick it up. You won't be sorry.



  1. You've convinced me! Thank you for the in depth review and for reminding me beach weather is on the horizon.

  2. Beach weather most certainly is on the horizon, though I have yet to see it. But I know it's coming!!!


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