Four Reasons Why I Fell Head Over Heels in Love with A Good Hard Look

BlogHer Review

Maybe I’m over critical, stingy, or a bit too much of a perfectionist, but the fact is I don’t give many 5-star, two thumbs up, double A+ reviews. But there was something about Ann Napolitano's A Good Hard Look which brought it to the top of my favorite reads list within moments of my first cracking the spine.

Four Reasons Why I Fell Head Over Heels in Love with Ann Napolitano’s A Good Hard Look

1. Napolitano’s voice and choice of language is beyond gorgeous. Within the first eleven pages of the book, I had scribbled down over a dozen phrases which left me swooning from the moment I first read them. You know the words I’m talking about; the sentence or description that makes you gasp a bit, in awe the first time you read the words strung together as so. You pause and reread it twice and perhaps even a third or fourth time to force the wonderful experience again, this time holding your breath as you recite the words to yourself.

Out of the several phrases I jotted down in my journal from those first eleven pages, my favorite reads “The sun poured yellow syrup over the grass and stone slabs.” Isn’t that imagery stunning?

2. Creative character development through story telling. I can’t say enough how great it is that Napolitano tells the story in various points of view but still remains able to write in third person all throughout the book. During each segment of story, broken up by chapters or page breaks, the reader sees the scene through the eyes of one major character, then another, and then another.

The fact that the characters’ lives are so intertwined in the small, rural Georgia town gives this method of storytelling a great vantage point. The relationships these people have with one another are displayed through the story unfolding and the narrator’s voice shifting to properly convey what each specific main character is feeling.

3. Oh, so scandalous -- yet not at all unlikable. As I imagine most small towns thriving in this manner, the town folk of Milledgeville live for their tangled lives laced with drama. Omission, betrayal, self-discovery, unlikely relations, and some noisy birds to boot -- the stories these people have about one another could rival those of Wisteria Lane. The difference between a prime time drama and Napolitano’s novel, besides buckets of Botox and a several magazine covers, remains in the likability of her characters.

Although Napolitano explores relationships you would probably shudder at if heard about on the evening news, the way the stories are told, I never hated anyone for their actions. Instead, I empathized for each character, finding something about each character relatable. Even at times, when I found myself wanting to step into the pages and stop someone from making a mistake I knew wouldn’t end well, I remained a fan -- cheering on the characters and understanding their emotions.

4. Completely quotable. Okay, I just have to say it one more time, because it totally deserves two spots on this list. The language in A Good Hard Look is crave-worthy. Take for example this quote, which I feel like I need to tattoo on my body, hang on my bedroom wall, and recite to myself every single morning: “A few letters made up a word, and a few words made up a sentence, and a piece of punctuation moved her forward.”

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