Author: Jennifer Egan Series: Standalone Genre: Fiction Release Date: June 8, 2010 Book Length: 341 pages Publisher: Anchor Books Review: 5/5
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.
There’s this memory that I have from grade 9 geography class that will stick with me for the rest of my life: we were watching a nature documentary, and this one scene of a waterfall flowing through rocks was on the television screen as the narrative voice of a woman said, “tiiiime paaasses” – elongating the vowels just like that. This one girl in my class thought the voiceover was hilarious, so she kept repeating ‘tiiiime paaasses’ over and over and giggling as only a 14-year-old girl can in her vivacious way. In that moment I remember thinking that as funny as it all seemed, that voice was right—time passes. And although I knew it at the time, the way you always do when you realize you’re living in a moment you know will turn to a lifelong memory, time really does seem to have passed so quickly since then. That’s what this book is about: the passage of time.
This book focuses on a web of people who are all connected in some way – the story is told from the perspective of a different person per chapter, and at different time periods in their lives. I loved that, for example, you would read about the childhood of one character, and then in the next chapter narrated by a different person, the child that was in the previous chapter was now referenced as an adult. I found this to be a very unique writing style and it made the characters feel so real to me. Sometimes it wasn’t until a few pages into a new chapter that I would realize who was narrating and what their connection was to the others, and I kind of enjoyed the mystery of having to piece them and the time periods all together.
I felt like this book did a great job of mirroring reality. Not everything is always going to be sunshine and rainbows—some of it is—but not all. Since the chapters presented such a well-rounded perspective of these characters, you got to see their lives from all angles—good and bad— and I really enjoyed that. The choices you make when you’re young will affect your future; the people you associate yourself with will shape you as a person; sometimes people grow apart; and sometimes people change, sometimes they don’t, but no matter what, time doesn’t stop for anybody.
This is my favourite read of the year so far. I would highly recommend it if you enjoy character development, books that make you think about life, and/or are looking for a unique reading experience.