Look at Me by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This story about identity started off very strongly. The main character, Charlotte Swenson, a model, is in a terrible car accident. 80 titanium screws are needed to restructure her face, and once she heals, although she still has model looks (somehow), she is unrecognizable to people from her life in New York.
The premise of Charlotte trying to find herself with this new face was interesting. Other characters she comes across are also struggling with their own identities. Charlotte had a high school friend named Ellen. Ellen's daughter (also named Charlotte) is a 16-year-old girl struggling with her sexual self who winds up having an affair with a much older man. Ellen's brother Moose is suffering from some sort of mental illness while living what seems to be a "normal" life, and a foreign mystery man learning the ways of America.
All of the characters have identity issues and that's a uniting theme in the book. That was fine.
I enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book. Jennifer Egan is great at character development and at creating a mood. When she describes something, I get a complete picture of what's going on. I do enjoy her writing.
But....I felt like there were too many characters. Many of them with no connection to that uniting theme. Of the main characters, I found myself skimming through anything to do with Moose. His interactions with niece Charlotte were tedious. His breakdown was confusing. The mystery man's story had no closure...he just disappeared. (Which kind of makes sense considering who his character is, but I thought some sort of closure was needed with him...an epilogue or something.) The story about the Internet scheme was just too much, and the characters that came with that were so annoying. It just became a jumbled mess at the end and I ultimately felt disappointed and annoyed.
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