A Good Hard Look Is a Lovely Story...
I judge a book by its cover. There, I said it. I took one glance at A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano and decided it was tacky. After reading the book, I don’t think the cover matched the feel of the book at all. The book was lovely.
Let’s talk about what I did like. The plot was original, it was interesting and unpredictable. It was not fast paced; I would not say this was an easy breezy beach read either. The setting of this book mostly takes place in the south, Georgia to be exact. It took me a while to figure out the time period, which was a bit annoying to always be looking for time period clues. If I guessed correctly this book takes place in the 1950s. This storyline revolves around a few main players. There’s Cookie and Melvin, a newlywed couple. Regina and Flannery, a mother and daughter. Lona and Bill, a married couple with a daughter, Gigi. There are a few other minor characters that are not as important. This book is told in third person point of view, but each chapter takes a perspective from a different character. That’s one of the book’s traits that I really loved. The three main sets of characters are all intertwined with each other. That’s what really kept the story interesting.
New York is also like a character in this book. It seems like any time life gets rough, they run to New York, running away from their problems. In the end you learn that everyone has to deal with their problems and not run away, that solves nothing.
I am a sucker for stories that go full circle, where the end of the story pays homage to the beginning of the story. At first I didn’t have a clue what those darn peacocks had to do with anything. I kept wondering why the author kept talking about those darn peacocks. In the end it makes sense, trust me.
Part of the storyline revolves around a rivalry between Flannery and Cookie, based on something that happened in their childhood. I’m not being illusive when I say "something," because they never actually say what happened and that really bothered me. We know that Flannery wrote a book and one of the characters was based on Cookie, but they never say what she wrote about her. Another thing that bothered me was that Flannery has a disease and it’s not until the last 20 pages or so that they say she has lupus. That’s something that doesn’t ruin any plot, but something that distracts you throughout the book. I have one more thing that bothered me, and this one is kind of a biggie. I feel that after I read a book I should know why the book is named what it is. This book is called A Good Hard Look. The book is divided into two parts; the first part is titled “Good” the second part is titled “Hard” so you would think that maybe there would be a third part titled “Look” but no such luck. I still have no idea why the title of the book is what it is.
The things that I didn’t like were sort of nitpicky and the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I really enjoyed how the author described the characters in such a way that I felt like I knew them. I really got a sense of Milledgeville and the feel of the town and their way of life. This story has love but it’s not a love story, it has grief, it has struggle, murder, it has a bit of everything.