The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
“A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.
When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety, and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.
As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorenson’s past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.
Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.”
June 25, 2019
Family Life Fiction
I have read a lot of books this summer but none that really blew me away. A memorable book for me is one that keeps me thinking about it long after finishing it. Many of my book choices during this time of the year are easy and engaging but not always ones that stick with me forever. There is definitely a time and place for both of these types of reading and they each fill my reading bucket in very different ways.
I kept seeing The Most Fun We Ever Had on Bookstagram and I put it on my TBR list but I wasn’t sure if summer was the time to read it. I was a little nervous about the length and I didn’t know if I was in the mood for a family saga piece of writing during this more hectic time of the year. After seeing yet another raving review I decided to read it on a whim and boy was I wrong!
When you are reading a 500+ page book it is a real commitment. Your reading experience is more like a marathon and just not a sprint to the finish. Author Claire Lombardo pulled me right into the lives of the members of the Sorrenson family and I had a hard time putting this one down. The writing was both captivating and completely absorbing. I ended up going back and forth between both reading the hard copy and listening to this on Audible. This made it an absolutely amazing and engrossing reading experience and was perfect for this style of writing.
While there were a lot of well-developed characters and the narration jumps back and forth from present (2016) to the past I never felt confused or that it was hard to keep track of it all. This is all such a testament to Lombardo’s skilled writing ability.
The story was compelling and the characters were both raw and relatable. I loved that their relationships with each other and themselves showed the intricacies of both families and just being human. The nuanced history and complexities of relationships that have spanned decades were presented in such a completely compelling manner. There were humorous parts and so many memorable quotes that I will never forget.
When I wasn’t reading or listening to this book I was thinking about it. It was difficult to leave this fictional family at the end of my reading journey, which for me, makes this truly a remarkable read. I highly recommend this debut(!!) novel and I can’t wait to read what Lombardo shares next.