Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Exiles by Allison Lynn

The Exiles by Allison Lynn
Published Little A / New Harvest July 2013
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Publisher's Summary:
Nate, a mid-level investment banker on Wall Street, and his longtime girlfriend Emily can no longer afford their cramped apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Tired of trying to keep up with their jet-set friends, they jump at a job offer for Nate in Newport, Rhode Island – complete with a bucolic, small, and comparatively affordable new house. They pack their belongings tightly in their Jeep Cherokee and head north to start a new life. Yet less than an hour after arriving in Newport, the car is stolen and they’re left with nothing but the keys to their empty house and their bawling ten-month-old son.  
My Thoughts:
I recently read a review of a different book that questioned whether or not the person who wrote the summary had even read the book. I kind of feel the same way about this one. It's not so much, in either case, that the person had not read the book, it's just that the summary doesn't begin to actually sum up the book. Everything in the summary happens in the first chapter. Even that would be fine if the book were actually about how Nate and Emily cope with the lose of their vehicle and everything in it and their adjustment to a new environment. It's not.

It's about two very unlikable people who don't so much move as flee when it becomes clear that Nate is never going to be a bright and shining star in the investment industry and they'll never be able to keep up with the Jones'. This is not helped by the fact that Emily has decided she isn't going to work any more until she can find just the right job. When their Jeep is stolen, and the couple needs to survive the three-day holiday weekend until the banks reopen and they can access their money again, these two quickly prove that nothing has changed in their attitudes about money.

The bigger story, however, is that both Nate and Emily are keeping huge secrets from the other, as well as numerous smaller secrets. Nate's has to do with an hereditary medical condition which he may have passed down to his son but never told Emily about. Much is made of this disease and the impact it has had, and continues to have, on Nate. I'm not opposed to having a medical issue as a central point in a novel; I did feel like we got too much of it here. Emily's secret is more recent and, to my mind, much less forgivable. It says a tremendous amount about the kind of person Emily is and the resolution of what she's done didn't make me feel any better about her.

I can't say I ever warmed up to Nate and Emily but as the story progressed, and we learned more about Nate's relationship with his family, I did begin to empathize with Nate.

Using the tips I gave last week for picking a book club selection, this one does hit on a number of points: we're not entirely sure what will become of Nate and Emily by the end of the book, the characters are not necessarily likable, and there are bound to be differing opinions about this book. I know there are among the bloggers on the book's tour. To read other reviews, check out the full tour.

Allison Lynn is the author of the novel Now You See It, which won awards from both the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and the Bronx Council on the Arts. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, People, and elsewhere. She teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, where she lives with her husband, the writer Michael Dahlie, and their son.

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