Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book Review: The Invisible Circus

I loved Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, so I had high hopes for The Invisible Circus, but I found it really hard to get through. I did not connect to the main character who is so consumed by the death of her older sister - a decade earlier - that she has not developed any identity beyond that. This is hard to believe as ten years is a long time, but Pheobe does not have her own friends or interests and when she turns eighteen, she has a fight with her mother and runs off to Europe to retrace her sister's footsteps, hoping to discover something by reliving Faith's last days.

It's a bit unclear what secret Pheobe believes there is since it seems clear to the reader that Faith killed herself. Something about this rings untrue so Pheobe goes off in search of her sister's ghost. Egan is a great writer, so the info-dump of the first part of the book is extremely well-written and Pheobe's meandering journey through Europe is also well-written but neither move the plot forward or make me have a better understanding of what Pheobe is doing. When she runs into her sister's old boyfriend in Germany, we begin to get more of Faith's story from Wolf. But I never get an idea why any of it is important.

Again, this is very well-written in a microscopic sense. The sentences are beautiful. But the larger story fell apart for me.

Read Goon Squad.

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