Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Book Review: The Outlook for Earthlings

Happy Wednesday! I keep thinking it is Thursday or Friday and that is just... depressing. Such a let down. The kids don't have school for the next two days which is nice but... if I don't get a decent nap in either day I'll probably end up crabby. I'm just saying. 

The Outlook for Earthlings - Joan Frank

The Outlook for Earthlings traces an unusual, difficult friendship across a lifetime, between women of stunningly opposite natures. Melanie Taper is timid, compelled to obey and venerate authority. Yet in unguarded moments she demonstrates such deadly insight into human foibles as to suggest a strength that has, for dark reasons, deliberately hidden itself. Scarlet Rand, by contrast, is rash, willful, and impatient of reverence of any stripe. Scarlet is shocked by Mel's passive reserve; despite her obvious gifts, Mel is—bafflingly—self-erasing. Mel's saintliness maddens Scarlet—because finally and most troublingly, Scarlet disbelieves it. Their friendship suggests to each a final frontier, a saving sanctuary. Yet at its core, a pained impasse soon becomes evident: each woman takes a secret, moral offense at the other's inmost nature—and choices. Living out these differences—against awareness of the illness which is slowly destroying one of them—proves an ultimate challenge. In each, a reckoning must occur. The Outlook for Earthlings examines what women want, amid conflicting layers of need. It ponders beginnings, endings, and Virginia Woolf's declaration that good angels must be killed. It considers the limits of friendship—and of the act of witnessing. At its heart, it asks how we may finally measure a life—and who should do the measuring. 
Wow, OK, I'm not even sure what to write about this or what to talk about that doesn't really give away the best parts about this book. It is definitely a literary fiction so if that is your jam, this is one you are really going to enjoy. It's not very long (just over 200 pages or so) but it covers a lifetime. I think we are all at the age where we start looking at relationships we've had, and lost, or thought we lost who have come back, and what they meant to our greater life. I know that I have friends that have gone through the good, the bad, and the ugly, but also everything in between. The boring, the shame, the sorrow, the nothing. 

Which is what this book is. 

The author does an amazing job describing everything and everyone, so much so that you can easily visualize this as you go, and I felt like that was important to the story. The story itself is about Scarlet and Mel, and their friendship over the years but it is really about all of us, how we change over time. The idea that friendship is like marriage, albeit a little different. The arc of a marriage is excitement/fun in the beginning, trouble/difficulties arise and people drift apart a bit but come together again, and you settle into a kind of comfortableness. It's the same as friendships, particularly with Scarlet and Mel. 

I feel like this book is PERFECT given the current climate we are in as a country, we're seeing lifelong friendships and even family being torn because of polarizing political views. The story delves deeper into the meaning of not just being a friend but a good friend. It talks about how sometimes we have to look past a person's choices (even if they are completely questionable and you know you are totally right), maybe the relationships they choose, or even the way they move through the world. 

I loved that even though the girls grow up together, go their separate ways and do vastly different things with their lives, and when they come back together they are happy to see each other but.... they do the thing we are all guilty of, they start the mental conversation with ourselves completely judging them instead of asking how you can support them. Which is the moral of the story. The way we get there in this book is beautiful and something so many can identify with in our own lives in some respect. 

I also think this is going to make a wonderful book club selection, especially if your club is all women, because so many conversations will happen around friendship. It might even encourage you to find your best friend from elementary school, who knows? 

A huge thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour but also Joan Frank for sending me a copy of her book!


1 comment:

Why Girls Are Weird said...

I totally need to read this, thanks friend!