There's always something that makes me sad in Anne Tyler's books. In this one, it was how generally well-intentioned the characters were, but how easily they misunderstood each other. Also how thoughtlessly the characters spoke sometimes. But what I love about Anne Tyler is how true to life her books are, maybe more in this one than in previous novels. The characters aren't quirky and weird, as in many of her other books; they're more subtly complex and ordinary.
It was one of those books where, days after I've finished it, I suddenly wonder, "What's going on with so-and-so?" And I'm sad to discover that the story is done. I don't know what else will happen to so-and-so, because she's not real.
My mom used to want me to write our family history. She thought it could be like an Anne Tyler novel. It probably could be--we'd fit right into her world, except for the Baltimore setting--but I'm not sure we'd be pleased to see ourselves so honestly rendered. Anne Tyler is good at the flawed protagonist.