Told in two POVs, Weiner follows a boy (Andy) and girl (Rachel) who meet when they are 8 years old. The book shows them through the years and then eventually when they meet back up again when they are 16. All in all we follow Andy and Rachel until they are in their late 30s I would guess and we get to see the ups and downs in both of their lives and how certain real life events (9/11) impacts some of the choices that they make. That said, I think the book ended rather abruptly. I was around the 84 percent mark and was surprised to get to the end and saw that the rest of the book was just discussion points/reading guide to the book, excerpt from another one of Weiner's books, and just a couple of pages devoted to her other books.
I really enjoyed the last Weiner book that I read "All Fall Down" so was willing to give this one a whirl.
I honestly think that Weiner did a great job with both Rachel and Andy's voices throughout the book. To take two characters from the age of 8 and show them developing/changing until their late 30s was a great idea. I was worried that one of the POV's would be lacking compared to the other one, but they were both given equal time/weight in the book.
Rachel is dealing with the fact that for most of her life until when she meets Andy, she has been sick. Born with a heart defect, her parents have worried that she is going to be taken from them. Due to her health issues this has caused her older brother at times to feel left out in the cold due to all of the attention she receives. Rachel happens to meet Andy in the hospital ER where she goes to get stories to tell to her friend who is also hospitalized. We learn enough about Andy in that little back and forth to know that he is the only son of a single mom and that he is biracial. Neither kid thinks they will see each other again until they do years later during a trip to Atlanta. From there, the book becomes about Andy and Rachel's relationship.
I really liked the writing and was happy that Weiner was able to bring two distinct voices when writing as Andy and as Rachel. I can't say that I enjoyed one more than the other honestly. We get to see Rachel mature after she re-meets Andy and then matures again. If anything, we get to see Rachel realizing that she is making mistakes in her life, but trying to course correct.
With Andy, we see a young man struggling to figure out where he fits in since he is seen as not white enough by white people and not black enough by black people. When he runs he feels truly free and uses that to keep himself out of trouble. However, the book shows that Andy starts to make some choices that is going to cause some trouble down the line.
I do wish that we had gotten more dialogue between Rachel and her mother. She is obsessed with her daughter and it was weird after a while that we would just kind of hear about this character after a while. Also I wish that Rachel had been shown having a conversation with her brother once in a while too. Once again we are just told about this character which I also found weird.
I loved all of the characters we get to meet via Andy in his POV (Mr. Silas, his mother, and his grandparents) and we follow up with them again and again.
I liked the writing in this one. I think the one book that I had a visceral negative reaction to was "Goodnight Nobody". I remember saying to myself that I could not make heads or tails about anything that was going on and had a hard time following who was speaking. Thank goodness this book is nothing like that.
As I said above the ending was rather abrupt. And honestly, I didn't find it realistic. I wish that Weiner had changed things up slightly.