Book Review

Highlight Review: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Title: The Most Fun We Ever Had
Author: Claire Lombardo
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published On: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Pages: 532

Synopsis: When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.

My thoughts

Today I wanted to highlight one of my favorite reads this year!

(I was provided an advance copy of this novel from the publisher, Doubleday, through Netgalley.)

I have fallen in love with this novel. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve wished Goodreads had more than five stars, and I’m completely baffled that every reviewer isn’t giving it five stars. While this novel is over 500 pages, it never felt like it. I didn’t want it to end, but didn’t want to put it down either, dragging my feet as I read it. The Most Fun We Ever Had is a simple novel, and by that I mean its central focus is on a family and how the members of that family change and how they affect each other. But Lombardo has written this (debut!!) novel so intricately, weaving each character in with flashbacks and personal memories, that it took me no time to get to know each character. And while they are flawed, so much so that sometimes I wanted to shake them, they are real and completely fleshed out.

At the heart of the story are the parents, Marilyn and David, who have remained very much in love and affectionate for forty years, much to the dismay of their four daughters, who feel like they will never be able to attain such happiness. Lombardo takes us through those years and shows us how hard Marilyn and David have worked to maintain their love story, and just how much it has influenced their children. 

A lovely, beautiful, and refreshing novel that had me laughing and crying. There was so much within this book that I identified with, and maybe even learned from.


Happy Wandering!

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