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Booker Longlist – Redhead by the Side of the Road – Anne Tyler

 

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Book Two – reviewed by panelists Book Worm, Tracy, Lisa and  rated by Nicole

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, MN and and grew up in Quaker communities in the southern US.  

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: 

Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person you’ll ever meet. His numerous sisters and in-laws regard him oddly but very fondly, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world. He measures out his days running errands for work – his TECH HERMIT sign cheerily displayed on the roof of his car – maintaining an impeccable cleaning regime and going for runs (7:15, every morning). He is content with the steady balance of his life. But then the order of things starts to tilt. His woman friend Cassia (he refuses to call anyone in her late thirties a ‘girlfriend’) tells him she’s facing eviction because of a cat. And when a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son, Micah is confronted with another surprise he seems poorly equipped to handle.

Redhead by the Side of the Road is an intimate look into the heart and mind of a man who sometimes finds those around him just out of reach – and a love story about the differences that make us all unique.

Tracy’s Thoughts: 

This was okay. There were no fireworks. There was little excitement. Just a guy who can’t read social cues, has a strict routine, and perhaps a college student for a son. 

The story was uninspired, to be honest- I felt like I’d read this line before, and it was hard for me to connect with the writing style. The main character was difficult to connect with, as well, though I’m pretty sure that was intentional. 

The family dynamic was the best part of the book. I enjoyed the familiarity of Micah’s sisters and brothers in law, and how they treated him- he surely was on the spectrum, and they were kind and deferential.  

I know Anne Tyler is considered an American treasure, but I’ve tried many times to read her works, and I’ve come to the conclusion that she and I just aren’t going to mesh. 

Writing quality: 2.5/5
Originality: 1.5/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 1/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 8/20

BookWorm’s Thoughts: I considered this to be a male Eleanor Oliphant with slightly less heart and soul. I really enjoyed spending time with Micah as he negotiates the complex world of things not happening to a set schedule and learns that other people have feelings and ideas that may conflict with his. The writing is very humorous in places and it definitely provided escapism.

While I enjoyed this book I have no idea why it would be selected for the Booker longlist I am not seeing anything unique or mind blowing in it. The author is a household name and has previously been longlisted for the Booker so its selection is not to showcase an up and coming author or to encourage diverse reading so I am really at a loss.

As my scoring reflects this for me was an average book, enjoyable but average.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 2/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 13/20

Lisa’s Thoughts: 

I’ve read a number of Anne Tyler’s books, and I always enjoy reading them. Her writing style is very clear and draws me in. That’s true here as well. However, with this book, I felt like I was reading A Man Named Ove or Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. The story is told from the point of view of someone who has a lot of rules about how to live, and they do not recognize how their rules impair their ability to live. Person has a realization of sorts – not totally – no one can ever transform totally — but enough to change some things and appreciate those they love. Thus, this book did not feel very original, and you could see the ending from miles away. I wondered if the inclusion of this book on the long list, like The Testaments last year, was more of an acknowledgement of Anne Tyler’s entire body of work.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 2/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 12/20

 

Ratings:

Nicole 

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality:  2/5
Character development: 1/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 11/20

 

Rankings

  1. Such a Fun Age 11.1
  2. Redhead at the Side of the Road 11

We were all pretty blah on this one – What did we miss?

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