Book Review: The Most Fun We Ever Had
Author: Claire Lombardo
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Read: October 2020
When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that awaits them. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are in a state of unrest. Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator turned stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. With the arrival of Jonah Bendt–a child placed for adoption by one of the daughters fifteen years before–the Sorensons will be forced to reckon with the rich and varied tapestry of their past: years marred by adolescent angst, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.Penguin Random House
As a huge fan of multigenerational family genres, Lombardo’s debut- Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction- ranks near the top of my list.
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo centers on Marilyn and David, from their first encounter to raising their four daughters in the Chicago suburbs to the sudden upheaval caused by meeting a teenage grandson they never knew existed. For me, the strength of this book lies in the characters. They are authentic, complex, imperfect, frustrating, heart breaking and lovable all at once. Thematically, the book is about marriage, sisterhood, parenthood, loss, and what love looks like in all its messy and imperfect forms. And, of course, the writing was beautiful. This quote in particular really resonated with me:
“And it was striking, how much less alone that could make you feel, because of course to be peopled at all was a high-order gift, but to find people beyond your people was nothing short of miraculous, finding a person away from home who felt like home and shifted, subsequently, the very notion of home, widening its borders.”Claire Lombardo
As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. However, when I look back at the book more critically, I will say that this book is completely submerged in a privileged world. We don’t see any other characters really outside of the world of the upper-middle class Sorensons nor any indication of what is happening socially, politically or culturally (as it probably wouldn’t affect the family at all). The story spans decades, but exists in a vacuum.
Nonetheless, the story powerfully examines what it means to love someone, and the relationship between the two older sisters was phenomenal. If you enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere or Ask Again, Yes, I highly recommend this book!
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