Published by Little Brown & Company on July 19, 2016
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
Picking up The Inseparables by Stuart Nadler was a bit of a risky choice for me. The Goodreads reviews are mixed but a few of them compared it to The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, which I did not love. Ultimately, I was pulled in by the idea of three generations of women and family dysfunction. Both of these topics endear themselves to me and taking a chance on The Inseparables won out.
In short, this is a book about three women. First, there’s Henrietta, an aging feminist who has spent her life trying to escape the shameful reputation of an overtly sexual book she wrote in her youth. Second, there’s her daughter, Oona, an accomplished orthopedic surgeon whose marriage is falling apart. Lastly, we have Lydia, a 15-year-old who is forced to reckon with a public shaming of her own.
Some reviews assert that the story fell flat, was boring, or that the characters were unbelievable. I disagree. The alternating chapters with increasingly intense cliffhangers had me racing through the pages. Each woman is struggling with her own identity in relation to themselves, to society, and with their personal relationships – they are flawed, complicated, and relatable.
That said, I do understand where those who disagree are coming from. The Inseparables reminds me of The Returned by Jason Mott. It, too, received mixed reviews but those who really delved into the real-life implications of the ideas contained within the book seemed to love it. The Inseparables is similar in that the repercussions of each’s actions are not expressly laid out, rather the reader must bring in their own experiences to fully appreciate it, particularly if she is female. For example, subtle mentions of the longterm impacts of “present-day” events demonstrate the severity of the situations without expounding on them. Similarly, relationships unfold and are revealed as the story goes on, allowing the reader to savor (or wallow) without being forced to move on to quickly.
The book touches on a lot of heavy subjects, such as public shaming, sexuality, independence, and love, but these are subtexts that propel the story forward, not individual actions that serve as plot points. Each reader will likely connect with a different character and for different reasons depending on their own personal story.The Inseparables from @littlebrown offers a fresh take on dysfunctional family dramas. Read it! Click To Tweet
Another common complaint is that a man wrote this book and did not portray women realistically. Again, I disagree. Nadler strikes a balance between articulating a woman’s thoughts while refraining from condescension or dismissiveness, all the while bringing the insecurities women face into the fold. It is precisely because he has not experienced them firsthand that he is able to craft a story allowing the reader to put so much of themselves into the book. Whether you see it from the male or female perspective, the subjects are relevant to everyone. Again, what you put in is what you get out of it.
For me, The Inseparables was a terrific read. If you have read a lot of dysfunctional family novels then the description may sound a bit cliché, but Nadler’s unique style (casual but literary) and approach makes it worth the risk.
Recommended for: Fans of dysfunctional family dramas but who want a fresh reading experience.