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.Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta
Published by Scribner on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary Women, General
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They’ve always been friends, and they both become filmmakers: Meadow, who makes documentaries, and Carrie, who makes popular movies with a feminist slant. They grew up together in LA, sharing an obsessive love of film. Their friendship is complicated, but their devotion to each other trumps their wildly different approaches to work and to being in the world. Their lives collide with Jelly, a woman whose most meaningful encounters happen on the phone. Jelly cold calls powerful men and seduces them not through sex but through listening.
All the women grapple with the consequences of their actions and with the question of how to be good: a good artist, a good lover, a good friend, a good mother. They all fall short, but as they struggle toward an acceptance of their limits, they approach a kind of release.
Innocents and Others is why I have a hard time DNF’ing (did not finish) books. I was reading and not enjoying, and then boom, right about the 60% mark it got good. Like really ridiculously good. I think my problem in the beginning was with the primary narrator, Meadow. In the words of her best friend – “God! Meadow could be so pretentious sometimes.” She was spoiled, and whiney and thought she was just so above everyone else. She pushes away her best friend Carrie, makes a few documentaries that don’t go over well and then, something changes her outlook and she becomes an actual feeling person. Carrie’s story arc I enjoyed and Jelly was hit and miss to me; some parts of her story were great and some just didn’t grab me.
Dana Spiotta crafted a very real world in Innocents and Others. She structured it well and the actions of the characters fit in what she built. The pacing was slow and a little choppy on the first half, but smoothed out in the second half. The characters were the upside and the downside of Innocents and Others for me. I really liked Carrie, Jelly had her moments, but I actively disliked Meadow for the majority of the book. There was a good emotional base throughout; I think that is why I disliked Meadow as I did not care for her emotional patterns. Spiotta has a distinctive voice in her writing. When she made you care for a character, you did, but then she could also make you really not like a character. I will say, that that takes talent. A lesser writer can make you feel ambivalent but it is hard to invoke a true visceral reaction to someone, that takes skill.
I was mixed about Innocents and Others. It had some amazing moments and some moments where I was just done reading. I am very glad I stuck it out as there were those places where the story just popped and I was so happy I read it. To sum it all up, did not enjoy the first half, loved the second half, so Innocents and Others is one I would say give a chance to.
Favorite lines – Meadow stood there, unmoving, and lifted her glasses to wipe her eyes. Her stingy tears. What kind of person had she become, and why couldn’t she be better?
Biggest cliché – I just want things my way, I’m not spoiled.
Have you read Innocents and Others, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Mount TBR Reading Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge