August 24, 2016

Review: Us by David Nicholls

Us by David Nicholls
pub 9/30/14 by Hodder & Stoughton
Adult - Contemporary Fiction
Us is my second David Nicholls book and I've got to say, the man has a talent for writing stories that are simultaneously hopeful and downright depressing. But always engaging. We follow Douglas Petersen as he's just found out that this wife of almost thirty years, Connie, thinks she wants a divorce. However, they, along with their moody seventeen-year-old son Albie, are about to embark on a month-long tour of Europe together. We go back and forth between the past, when Douglas and Connie first met, and the present as he optimistically hopes this trip will solve all their problems.

Both the past and present were very interesting to me. In the past, it's clear Douglas and Connie are completely differently people who should not make sense together. He's this really reserved and awkward physics nerd who randomly expresses very dry humor. Whereas Connie is this total bohemian free-spirit who loves all things art and creative. But against all the odds they fell in love and married one another. We learn how they met, what they were each going through at the time and what led them to where they are now. In the present, there's still warmth and affection between them but is that enough? And Connie wonders what's left of a marriage once your child is about to leave the nest. Not to mention, Douglas and said child do not have a bond whatsoever and it's really sad to behold.

That said, there were a lot of times when I didn't like either Connie or Albie very much and I found them to be quite unfair to Douglas. Maybe it's because I could see a little bit of my own dad in him. (My mom and Connie are absolutely nothing alike though.) But then Douglas would say or do things and I'd want to yell at him and ask, what is wrong with you?! And I realized, that's what makes this book so good. No one character is perfect. There's no good or bad guys. It's just three people looking for happiness in completely different ways. The book evolved from being about a marriage falling apart to an honest look at all the kinds of love and relationships in your life. Exes, spouses, parent-child and the one you have with yourself. The last few chapters in particular really got to me and the last page was just perfect.

Do I recommend?
I do! It's nothing I'd necessarily return to and re-read but I enjoyed it a lot.

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