Good Hard Look: A Lesson in Being Honest

BlogHer Review

A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano is a captivating read that shows the struggle and downfall of real humans trying to overcome their real struggles.

This book evoked feelings from all over the spectrum. I felt happy, sad, disgusted, horrified, glad, nervous, anxious, relieved and joyous all within the span of 329 pages. There were times that I was so shocked about what I was reading. I felt like many times Ann Napolitano didn't hold back. She was blunt and straightforward, not sugar-coating any detail no matter how hard it would be to imagine. I gasped, cried, and smiled throughout the book more times than I can count. But more importantly, A Good Hard Look helped me realize the importance of being honest. And not just honest to others and in everyday actions, but being honest with yourself.

A Good Hard Look centers around a few different characters, all interwoven together by the common thread of growing up in a small town in Georgia called Milledgeville. They each have their own goals, their own struggles, and their own lies. And most of all, they are each stuck in unhappiness but feel like they have no power to change it. Instead, they chose to put on a fake smile and keep going, all the while lying to all those around them and lying to themselves that nothing was wrong. Amidst all the characters, Flannery O'Conner stands as one of the few characters that encourages honesty out of herself and others. But even she started to realize she was refusing to admit some vulnerable secrets to herself.

As the book progresses, the characters are all faced with certain situations and opportunities that allow them to break free of their blind submission to their unhappy lives. The characters are faced with the temptation of forbidden love, including developing relationships with a younger man, a married man, and a crippled woman. But instead of running away from the temptations, they ran towards head on and started living totally separate lives than what the public and their family knows. These lies and deception for the sake of being happy finally becomes their downfall and lead to the deaths of innocent lives. The "Hard" section of the book describes just as low as any human being can go. But in the end, you are left with some hope that things can get better. Or as Flannery O’Conner says, “Maybe I left them on their way to a happy ending.”

In the end, I would fully recommend this book to readers looking for a great, captivating fiction. It was an easy read with a worthwhile story and message. It made me think harder about my own life and exactly what I want to get out of it. It helped me to see how important it is to be honest with myself and have worthwhile goals. And most importantly, it helped me appreciate my own little family and try to always be open and honest with them.

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