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Amy and Isabelle

Amy and Isabelle - Elizabeth Strout This is a well-written story of a single mother (Isabelle) and her teenage daughter (Amy), set in 1970's Maine. Unlike most books of this type, this is a literary rather than a sentimental novel, though the subject matter is familiar: Isabelle's frustration with the limitations of her life, Amy's burgeoning sexuality and relationship with a teacher who skillfully seduces her, and the fraught relationship between mother and daughter.

Strout's writing is strong and the characters three-dimensional and believable. I appreciated the subtle development of the characters' relationships and the author's eye for deeper meanings in everyday interactions. For me, though, by the second half of the novel, the pace had become too slow, with too many digressions into the weather and the lives of random townspeople with little to no impact on the main story. This is anything but a plot-driven novel, but worth checking out if you enjoy character studies.