After finishing The Devil in the White City for Book Club, I was eager to find a fun, quick summer read. That’s when I stumbled across The Goodreads Bookclub Challenge: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. The challenge consists of five parts:
- Like a quote
- Read the book
- Vote in the poll
- Take the quiz
- RSVP to the live chat with the author, Jennifer Egan
Joining the Goodreads Bookclub gave me an excuse to read a new book and participate online with other book clubbers. But what really drew me in was the opportunity to hear the author talk about her book. I find it fascinating to hear authors discuss their thought process and vision for a book and how that is similar or different from the one that I have experienced or imagined while reading it. (Also, checking off each item on the challenge list was highly satisfying.)
I hadn’t heard a single world about the novel prior to discovering the Bookclub Challenge on Goodreads. First, I looked for it at my local public library but no such luck. Every single copy was checked out and had at least 50 holds on each one! It would be the end of the universe before I would get a copy. Then I hopped over to Amazon to see if they had it available at a reasonable price. Sure enough, they did! A few clicks and a day later I had my very own copy!
I didn’t have any expectations about the book as I turned to the first page. I was just hoping it would be interesting. And it was.
A Visit from the Goon Squad was unexpected. Each chapter was in the voice of a different narrator – their life and their perspective on the events around them. Finishing one chapter and jumping into the next was like driving on a straight highway for miles and then taking a sharp left turn. Initially I felt like I didn’t know where the story was going, but by the end of the chapter Egan had left some breadcrumbs that linked one chapter and character to another. She expertly interwove the stories of many characters throughout the book into one beautiful, jagged picture.
The short summary on the cover doesn’t do the complexity of the story(ies) any justice. Yes it’s about Bennie and Sasha – they’re the anchors in the novel. But it really about so much more.
Read it: if you like off-beat, alternative books; you really enjoy music, especially old-school punk; if you’re looking for a quick read.
Skip it: if you’re looking for a challenging read, or if you are looking for a straight-laced book – this just isn’t it.
[The picture can be found over at twitpic here.]