Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Review: Breathing Lessons

Title: Breathing Lessons
Author: Anne Tyler
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A

Summary (from "Maggie Moran's mission is to connect and unite people, whether they want to be united or not. Maggie is a meddler and as she and her husband, Ira, drive 90 miles to the funeral of an old friend, Ira contemplates his wasted life and the traffic, while Maggie hatches a plant to reunite her son Jesse with his long-estranged wife and baby. As Ira explains, "She thinks the people she loves are better than they really are, and so then she starts changing things around to suit her view of them." Though everyone criticizes her for being "ordinary," Maggie's ability to see the beauty and potential in others ultimately proves that she is the only one fighting the resignation they all fear. The book captured the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1989."

Review: I'll say it again (because I've said it before): They just don't go around giving Pulitzer Prizes to bad books. This book was soooo good (if you like character-driven novels). It was a ever-so-slightly slow going to ramp up, but it got really good. Tyler does what Tyler does best; namely, she took one day as a slice of Ira and Maggie Moran's life and painted a picture of their deep and abiding marriage.

The book was fantastic, the characters interesting, and the tale of what a solid and stable marriage looks like was fascinating. Too many books use sensationalistic tactics, but Ira and Maggie couldn't be any more "common" and that's what made their story unique. If you like reading stories that will have you walking away thankful for your life, this is the book for you.

The only reason this book got an A (rather than an A+) is that I would have liked if Tyler had used Ira's POV more often (she uses Maggie's probably twice as much). Unfortunately for me, this book was written over 20 years ago, so changes to the manuscript aren't likely. (But an A isn't an embarrassing grade for Tyler.)

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