A More Literary “This is Us”

The Most Fun We Ever Had, the debut novel by 30ish Claire Lombardo may appear to the reader to be written by an older more mature writer, someone who has lived a long life, has experienced and fully understands family dynamics, and perhaps studied psychology. Lombardo dissects the varying relationships among the Sorenson family – the parents, David and Marilyn, and their four daughters, Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace – in thorough, thoughtful, and provocative ways. She digs deep and bares the jealousy, negative thoughts, and insensitive, snarky comments that are common threads in the daughters’ reflections of their relationships with each other and their parents. The daughters know that their parents are still madly in love after all these decades and each seems to hold a resentment that the greatest love she may ever experience first hand is not her own but the love between her parents that she has observed over her life. This may likely be a book club favorite because there is much to discuss and surely some of the comments will hit the reader dead on in an “aha” moment. That’s the good news!

The bad news is that though the writing is accomplished and often spot on and incisive, the characters are mostly unlikable. Except for Jonah who was given up at birth by one of the daughters, none of the other family members engender much sympathy. At the end of the day, Lombardo has written a polished but overlong, (i.e. in need of editing) novel that may remind some of the TV series This Is Us but without the poignancy, authenticity, and love on display on the small screen. You may possibly be saddened or annoyed by some of the siblings’ interactions or behaviors and not feel inclined to root for any of the characters, except for Jonah, that is. Tell me what you think.

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