A Good Hard Look Deserves a Good Look
A Good Hard Look is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I can tell I’m really “growing up” in terms of the genres of books I enjoy because this character-driven story about the residents of small-town Milledgville, GA is thoroughly enjoyable. Five years ago, I scoffed at anything that wasn’t sci-fi, fantasy or any other genre that involved the unreal. But, I can really relate to the lives of the characters that are revealed in thoughtful detail in this book.
Ann Napolitano really does her work justice, and you feel like you know the people of this book. I had to constantly remind myself that it’s not real and it’s set in a time 40+ years ago.
Flannery O’Connor, arguably the main character of this book, is actually a real person. Did you know this? I didn’t, but a bit of Googling revealed that she’s a famous writer. Yikes! I should have paid more attention in English class. She returns to Milledgeville, her hometown, after being diagnosed with Lupus. Her father is dead and she lives with her mother. They are two Catholics in a highly Protestant small town. Flannery is that friend we all have who tells it like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Though Flannery is perhaps meant to be the main character of this story, I found all of the characters equally as intriguing.
There is Cookie, who marries the rich man from NYC, Melvin. Cookie is your typical Southern beauty. She’s involved in every committee she can get her hands on and secretly wonders if she’s really good enough. There’s Lona and Bill -- married and both working to make ends meet. They live together yet live seemingly very separate lives. There’s Mary, the town gossip, and Daisy, Cookie’s mother who was married for 20 years before having Cookie. And there is also Joe, Mary’s son, and Gigi, Lona and Bill’s daughter.
Overall, this book is a great read. Learning about the way the characters' lives intersect is simply addictive and utterly fascinating. I can’t wait to check out more of Ann Napolitano and perhaps now I’ll even pick up a Flannery O’Connor novel!