Saturday, January 3, 2009

Book Review: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Title: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
Author: Anne Tyler
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A+


Summary (from the Back Flap): Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not her memory. It was a Sunday night in 1944 when her husband left the little row house on Baltimore's Calvert Street, abandoning Pearl to raise their three children alone: Jenny, high-spirited and determined, nurturing to strangers but distant to those she loves; the oldest son, Cody, a wild and incorrigible youth possessed by the lure of power and money; and sweet and clumsy Ezra, Pearl's favorite, who never stops yearning for the "perfect" family that could never be his own. Now grown, they have gathered together again--with anger, with hope, and with a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell...


Review: If you have not ever read this book, stop reading this review right now, go pick it up, and don't do anything else until you're done. If you're still reading this then you're either disobedient or you know how truly fabulous this novel is. Anne Tyler is an absolutely genius writer. She takes a series of events that are seemingly nothing--seriously, nothing of "consequence" really happens in this book--but you're captivated from the first chapter.


As I was reading I found myself feeling sympathy for which ever perspective was being used--she writes from Pearl, Cody, Ezra, and Jenny at different points throughout the book. When you're reading Cody you feel so badly for Cody, and (paradoxically) when you read Ezra your heart breaks for him. And it seems hard to imagine, having read any of the children's chapters, but you actually feel that Pearl (and her husband) as well are characters were rich and deep back-stories that are so complex.


At the end of the book I found myself deeply saddened, to the point of near tears (if I hadn't been at dinner with my family in Fazoli's I'd probably have let the tears spill). I just felt that these characters were all so tragic, their lives so sad, and then I realized what Tyler's teaching--everyone is tragic. No one has the perfect life. Family is very nearly all anybody has, and it makes you re-think what you think of your family and closest friends.


This book was easily, so easily, an A+ in my book. If I weren't a stickler for the grading system, I'd have given it an A++. It's really that good.

1 comment:

booktrash said...

I'll look out for this one - I don't often read this kind of book, but I do sometimes, and it certainly sounds like you enjoyed it!

By the way, I just gave you an award - take a look at my blog to see! :)