Friday, March 03, 2023

There's still a lot of life left in this town: EARLY MORNING RISER.

Early Morning RiserEarly Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Jane falls immediately for Duncan, she doesn't realize that he's slept with a good swath of women in their small town of Boyne City (and surrounding areas). Dating Duncan means encountering his exes everywhere, along with his beautiful ex-wife Aggie and her new husband Gary. After all, Duncan still mows their lawn. It also means that his coworker Jimmy could burst into his apartment at any moment. Then a terrible tragedy occurs and Jane's life becomes permanently entwined with Duncan's and Jimmy's and therefore Aggie's and even eccentric Gary's too. Who knew love involved quite so many people?

RISER is quite a quirky novel and a different sort of read for me, but I'm glad a reading challenge inspired me to pick it up, because it was really quite delightful. It's filled with a cast of memorable small town characters, such as Jane's mandolin-playing best friend, Freida, and Gary, who has a list of things that offend him a mile long, such as linoleum in a kitchen. In a less skilled author's hands, these folks would come across as trite and irritating, but I was laughing out loud in places. Each of these characters jumped off the page as their own unique person.

The story belongs to Jane, giving us glimpses of her life through the years. There are amazing moments of wit, heartbreak, love, and deep insight into her small town life. Heiny captures the suffocating nature of living in a small town perfectly (Aggie knows Jane and Duncan are dating again before Jane is even sure) and the beautiful (the town rallies around its own). It's sad at times, but often hopeful and beautiful too. I loved sweet Jimmy and how well the book showed the world through his lens.

There's no big plot twists in RISER, unless you count the sweeping ups and downs of life. It touches on the big and small moments we encounter in our world. It's relatable in so many ways, covering love, loss, and motherhood, among others. A lovely read. 4+ stars.

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