We Are Not Ourselves | Author: Matthew Thomas | Rating: 8/11 |
We Are Not Ourselves is a deftly woven novel spanning multiple decades, generations and telling the tale of Eileen Leary’s ascension from the child of an immigrant family to the woman she aspires to become. Eileen’s tale is both heartwarming and heartbreaking – at times, simultaneously – as she embodies the struggle felt by those longing for a better life than the generation before them and wanting to leave a greater legacy for their own children.
Thomas paints an intimate portrait of American life in the second half of the twentieth century where the convergence of middle class and immigrant aspirations juxtapose with their potential to both help and harm. Although the novel, itself, is brilliantly written and reads like a work much shorter than its 600+ pages, the main protagonist often comes across as unsympathetic and difficult to like. Alternately, other characters fall short of their promise, athough that may have potentially been deliberate. Overall, if you can get past any disdain you may feel for Eileen Leary, We Are Not Ourselves is a wonderful and insightful read.