Paperbacks That Help You Escape
Read them on your hammock—or read them on your lunch break. Either way, you'll be transported to a different world, with characters that fascinate.
2 of 12
336 pages; Riverhead Books
Available at:Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
Add a dead girl (who's the killer?), a car crash (who hit who?) or a ticking bomb (which wire to cut?) and just about any story feels compelling enough to keep a reader going past page 50. But then there's that other kind of novel, the kind in which characters' lives and thoughts and shifting relationships feel as suspenseful as any thriller. In Alcott's wise, fresh novel about five Brooklyn tenants and their landlord, Edith, the novel is sort of a dollhouse of a book: You want to split it open and play around with all the lives inside. First comes Edith, now advanced in age and surrendering to dementia. Next is Thomas, a once well-known artist who suffered a stroke that has left him unable to paint. Edward is a witty comic with a broken heart; Adeleine, an agoraphobic vintage knickknack collector; Paulie, a 30-year-old man with a child's mind due to a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. Whether this group of less-than-powerful people can save Edith from the machinations of her adult son, and his plan to take over her building and throw them all out into the street, is what drives the plot along—at a page-flipping pace. But the joy of reading comes from how these seemingly insular people fall in love and help each other, melding lonely lives into an improvised family. Along the way, expect to find insights that make you stop, go back and read again. As Edith says when Thomas is bemoaning that fact that he doesn't know what to do with the rest of his life, "Of course you don't know! How could you! But have you ever been astounded by what you knew was coming?" Take it from us: You don't know what's coming in the last third of this book, and you will be astounded.
— Leigh Newman