My reviewrating: 4 of 5 stars
I can understand why this won the National Book Award - it's one of those historical fiction novels that has a few messages, but none so heavy that they give you a headache. What messages? That growing up can be painful, that racism/antisemitism can be insidious, and that heroes can have feet of clay.
Evie's journey from "Sister Mary Evelyn" to an almost-woman feels real: her falling in love with Peter, her kissing (and regretting) Wally, her desire to look like her mother, and her realization that her self-absorption has left her naive and exposed all resonated with me. The adult characters felt, at times, as though they were there merely to serve her journey, although that could have been a deliberate choice.
As I read this, the image that kept coming to me was that of a black-and-white movie from the 30s-40s: the noir tones, the luminous visual of the heroine, the sense that Florida is steamy, etc. just seem made for that type of movie.
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