• Hardcover: 288 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (June 28, 2016)
A witty and winning new voice comes alive in this infectious road-trip adventure with a rock-and-roll twist. Shapiro’s debut blends the emotional nuance of Elena Ferrante with the potent nostalgia of High Fidelity, in a story of two women—one rich and alluring, the other just another planet in her dazzling orbit—and their fervid and troubled friendship.
From the distance of a few yards, there might be nothing distinctive about Lee Parrish, nothing you could put your finger on, and yet, if she were to walk into a room, you would notice her. And if you were with her, I’d always thought, you could walk into any room.
For quiet, cautious, and restless college freshman Vivian Feld, real life begins the day she moves in with the enigmatic Lee Parrish—daughter of died-too-young troubadour Jesse Parrish and model-turned-fashion designer Linda West—and her audiophile roommate Andy Elliott.
When a one-night stand fractures Lee and Andy’s intimate rapport, Lee turns to Viv, inviting her into her glamorous fly-by-night world: an intoxicating mix of Hollywood directors, ambitious artists, and first-class everything. It is the beginning of a friendship that will inexorably shape both women as they embark on the rocky road to adulthood.
More than a decade later, Viv is married to Andy and hasn’t heard from Lee in three years. Suddenly Lee reappears, begging for a favor: she wants Viv to help her find the lost album Jesse was recording before his death. Holding on to a life-altering secret and ambivalent about her path, Viv allows herself to be pulled into Lee’s world once again. But the chance to rekindle the magic and mystery of their youth might come with a painful lesson: while the sun dazzles us with its warmth and brilliance, it may also blind us from seeing what we really need.
What begins as a familiar story of two girls falling under each other’s spell evolves into an evocative, and at times irrepressibly funny, study of female friendship in all its glorious intensity and heartbreaking complexity.
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Deborah Shapiro was born and raised outside of Boston, Massachusetts. A graduate of Brown University, she spent several years in New York working at magazines, including New York and ELLE, and her work has been published in Open City, Washington Square Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places. She lives with her husband and son in Chicago. The Sun in Your Eyes is her first novel.
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While I have never been the type to go on a road trip myself, I love to read about fictional characters going on such journeys, especially when the story is presented in such an engaging way as Deborah Shapiro has done in The Sun in Your Eyes.
I really liked the way Lee and Viv, the two female leads are usually friends, sometimes frenemies, and sometimes just on completely different wavelengths, because real friendships do ebb and flow that way. More than that, though, I liked that the compelling reason for taking a road trip after a decade of divergent lives and three years with no contact, isn’t about an old lover, but about finding the last remnants of family history.
The search for truth about one’s parents, whether it’s in the form of a lost album, as in this book, or something less fantastic, like a birth certificate or marriage license, is not, ultimately about the thing we are seeking, but about what that information means to us.
For Lee, that album is much more than just a potential goldmine, it’s her connection to a barely-remembered parent, and I like the way author Deborah Shapiro never loses sight of that.
I also enjoyed the way both women pick up and echo each other’s habits and mannerisms, at times, while eschewing those same habits and mannerisms at other times. Again, it’s something we all do.
Shapiro has given us a well-plotted, well-paced novel that is sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and also thought provoking, making us ask ourselves who we are, and how much of who we are might be influenced by our friends and families.
Goes well with a bloody Mary, and a tray of sushi, because I have memories of that being a ‘thing’ for my mother and her best friend from college, who taught me how to order cocktails in the first place.
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Wednesday, June 8th: A Bookish Way of Life
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