Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Confession: for the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this novel. It is largely formatted as a type of play with each line of dialogue attributed to the character. There is little to no narration. If George Saunders wanted readers to feel off-kilter — like they’ve been set down in the middle of this odd scenario with no warning, no pretense, then he certainly achieved his goal. As a reader, I felt akin to some of the characters; I was in a sort of nether world, unsure of what was happening. It took a while to determine which characters were important (there are so many!) and where the story was headed.

But wait…don’t give up on this book. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, I had to give the story my undivided attention. No, I couldn’t listen to the audiobook. (Kudos to you if you’re able to follow the story in the audio version.) But I liked that this book expected more of me. It wasn’t going to give me a nice, neat palatable story on a silver platter. Soon I was reminded what a masterful writer Saunders is. Every word is set with intention. The characters, most of them ghosts, are crafted with care. I slowed down and absorbed each word, reveling in the spirit and magic of what it means to be alive.

Four hearts for this one. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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