I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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.Good on Paper by Rachel Cantor
Published by Melville House on January 26, 2016
Genres: Humor & Satire, Literature & Fiction, Sagas
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Is a new life possible? Because Shira Greene’s life hasn’t quite turned out as planned. She’s a single mom living with her daughter and her gay friend, Ahmad. Her PhD on Dante’s Vita Nuova hasn’t gotten her a job, and her career as a translator hasn’t exactly taken off either.
But then she gets a call from a Nobel Prize-winning Italian poet who insists she’s the only one who can translate his newest book.
Stunned, Shira realizes that—just like that— her life can change. She sees a new beginning beckoning: academic glory, demand for her translations, and even love (her good luck has made her feel more open to the entreaties of a neighborhood indie bookstore owner).
There’s only one problem: It all hinges on the translation, and as Shira starts working on the exquisitely intricate passages of the poet’s book, she realizes that it may in fact be, well ... impossible to translate.
I half loved Good on Paper and I half loathed it. The main character Shira was so selfish I just could not get into her head. The writing was smart and sharp, but I could not get past the utter apathy Shira showed to anyone not immediately poised to help her. A temp worker who mooches off of her best friend, she gets the job opportunity of a lifetime, translating for a Nobel winner. While searching for the truth behind the words, Shira finds a truth to her own life, a truth that may have come too late.
Rachel Cantor can write, to that there is no doubt. The world she created was real and I could see the New York neighborhood as the characters strolled through it. The pacing was good, never dragging. The plot was solid and could have been amazing. The characters and the emotions are where this fell short. Shira was generally unlikeable, riding over everyone in her path and ignoring the needs of her daughter. The side characters were weak and let themselves be overwhelmed. There was no emotional tie in Good on Paper to help balance the frank unpersonable characters.
I have read fantastic reviews of Rachel Cantor’s work, so I went into this with such high hopes. And yes, she can write. But the downfall of Good On Paper was the lack of true depth in the characters and the lack of emotion in the writing. Cantor is smart and that comes across, but it seemed as if she was more focused on showing how intelligent she can make a character and less focused on character and emotional development. While I can see how others love her writing, I read to escape and that emotional tie is probably the most important part of a book for me, and Good on Paper lacked it.
Favorite lines – When that still small voice tells me to look at my life, I turn up the stereo, find anything to do but. The psychologists haven’t come up with a cure for what ails me: there is no Ritalin for the heart.
Biggest cliché – “I am so smart and cool, I must know what is right.”
Have you read Good on Paper, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 Diverse Books Reading Challenge
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Mount TBR Reading Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge