A Good Hard Look: What Goes Around Comes Around
Set in a small Georgia town A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano involves a varied cast of characters. It all begins on the eve of Cookie and Melvin’s wedding with an unfortunate event that sets the tone for the rest of the book. Cookie, a committee-chairing social butterfly who grew up in Milledgeville, has high aspirations for her well-to-do, recently relocated husband. Melvin, on the other hand, has goals that are a lot less lofty. He is neither challenged nor thrilled with his new life in the small town. His boredom leads him to an unlikely friendship with Flannery O’Connor, a local writer who is viewed unfavorably by the townspeople. Her propensity to use people she knows as less than desirable characters in her novels has alienated her from those who used to be her friends.
Lona, a bored housewife come curtain designer, floats through life as her career-driven husband, Bill, plows on. A candid affair with her young assistant results in a multitude of tragedies.
Napolitano divided the book into three sections: Good, Hard, and Look. It is an interesting approach where the characters are developed throughout the Good section. You get a sense of who these people are and where they are going in life. In the Hard section, you see how the characters come to grips with the events that have taken place in their small, southern town. Some learn to deal with things much better than others. You start to feel for the innocent victims in the story. In the Look section, you are given a glimpse into the introspection of the survivors and the innocent victims. And, finally, you learn that what goes around, comes around.
This book has a few strong, main characters who carry the book along, but I found that most of it was too predictable. At times, I felt like information was missing and things weren’t developed thoroughly. While I wanted to like this book, I can’t count it among my favorites.