I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock
Published by Random House on April 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Domestic Life, Medical
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Alice Culvert is a force: passionate, independent, smart, and gorgeous, she—to her delight—attracts attention wherever she goes, even amid the buzz of mid-90s New York. In knee-high boots, with her newborn daughter, Doe, strapped to her chest, Alice is one of those people who just seem so vividly alive, which makes her cancer diagnosis feel almost incongruous. How could such a being not go on? But all at once, Alice’s existence, and that of her husband Oliver, is reduced to a single purpose: survival. As they combat the disease, the couple must also face off against the serpentine healthcare system, the good intentions of loved ones, and the deep, dangerous stressors that threaten to push the two of them apart.
I think I need to stop requesting stories set in New York City. I tend to find that the characters spend so much time acting cool, that it turns me off of them. Alice & Oliver did have that issue and without the medical crisis plotline I would have not enjoyed the read at all based on the characters. The titular Alice and Oliver are a hip, young NYC couple. They live in a loft in the Meatpacking district with their small daughter named Doe. Then on a trip to visit family, Alice falls very ill. She has cancer and the impact on her small family will carry for years.
The plot was interesting and the way Alice’s diagnosis resonated throughout her life was depicted well. The writing of Charles Bock had some great moments. He crafted some deep places and weaved some very interesting sub-plots. The pacing was great in the first half and then slipped in the second; at times it was difficult to sense how much time had lapsed. The world built was solid. Encompassing just a few locations it all worked together. Any story with a life threatening illness at the center will be filled with emotions. Unfortunately some of mine were negative as I just could not gel with some of the characters. Speaking of characters, I super disliked Oliver. I know I was supposed to feel for him, and for how his wife’s diagnosis affected him as well, but seriously, what an ass. Alice as well, would not have been likeable without that edge of illness to crack her veneer. Again, I just think the hipness that NYC characters tend to throw off just turns me off.
Alice & Oliver did have some great heart wrenching, gut punch moments. No story with a horrible disease, a family and the far reaching impact cannot have some amazing moments. But for me, the characters dragged down what could have been a very impactful tale. Charles Bock was able to write a lot of tender and special moments, just not enough for me to over come my distaste with the actions of the characters.
Favorite lines – And the more time he spent with Alice, the more Oliver realized he needed to up his game even further. Become that much more attentive to personal grooming. Be solicitous toward others. At least pretend to be attuned to the world and culture at large. If he wanted to keep this amazing woman looking at him like that, to somehow make this luminous creature his, he had to become kinder. It would be the greatest trick of all time.
Biggest cliché – We are so New York cool.
Have you read Alice & Oliver, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge