Wednesday, December 13, 2017

George and Lizzie

Title:  George and Lizzie
Author:  Nancy Pearl
Publication Information:  Touchston. 2017. 288 pages.
ISBN:  1501162896 / 978-1501162893

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The night Lizze and George met - it was at the Bowlarama way out on Washnetaw - she was flying high on some awfully good weed because her heart was broken."

Favorite Quote:  "See, we're always writing the narrative of our lives, and when you respond badly you turn the event into a burden, something that you carry forward into the next moment, the next hour, the next day, and the rest of  your life. It fills up your narrative. It weighs you down. You never forget it. But when you respond well, you have nothing to add to the narrative. You simply experience the unpleasantness, then let it naturally pass away, and then greet the next moment of your life with no trace of the last."

George and Lizzie are married. They have been married for years. This marriage is not a partnership of equal caring. It never has been. In fact, a list is given of the reasons why George loves Lizzie, the key quality on the list is Lizzie's neediness. "Lizzie needed George in ways that no one else ever had, or, he believed, ever would. She needed him to do the ordinary things ... More significantly, Lizzie (in George's view) needed rescuing from her own sadness, and George was convinced that he was the only person in the world who could do so."

So, one person's sadness and another's desire to fill that sadness is the basis for this marriage. Years and years late, Lizzie is still sad, and George is still trying. That is where this story begins. More than the story of a marriage, this is Lizzie's story. Going from the present all the way back to high school and back again in a nonlinear fashion, the book lays out an image of Lizzie's story. At the heart of Lizzie's sadness are the decisions of a teenaged Lizze in high school and the repercussions of those decisions extending through her life.

In high school, Lizzie decided to embark on a "game" to sleep with the entire football team. She saw the mistake she was making but was unable to stop. Fast forward to college. Lizzie tells her boyfriend the truth about high school; he bolts. Lizzie never recovers. Fast forward to George, who essentially loves Lizzie no matter what.

George's character is not developed. The reader sees what Lizzie sees - the constant, steadfast love in the face of all the obstacles Lizzie puts up. As a reader, I appreciate that devotion and wait through the book to see if eventually Lizzie does as well. I am also left wondering why George stays, what in him drives that need to cure Lizzie's sadness. His perspective is not explored.

My biggest issue with this book is that I don't understand the character of Lizzie and the decisions of her high school and college years. The book introduces the fact that Lizzie grows up the only child of two psychologists who view her more as an experiment than a child. However, that facet is not explored enough to lay the foundation for what comes next. The decision about the "game" in high school is unexplained. Lizzie's inability to stop is unexplained. The regret is understandable. However, that regret is replaced by the regret of losing her college boyfriend. She spends her life pining for someone with whom she had a very short relationship in college and who clearly moved on. That loss remains regardless of the love she receives over the course of long years from George. That too is unexplained. Years of devotion are unable to balance a short college romance; George is unable to cross the barrier of her sadness. Why?

I am not saying there may not be reasons; I am saying the book does not explore them. Without that why, I am left with one thought. George, run and save yourself.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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