Alison Jean Lester * GP Putnam * January 13, 2015 * 256 Pages
I loved this book start to finish–mostly because I loved Lillian. Lillian on Life, by Alison Jean Lester, didn’t read like fiction to me. It felt so real, almost like a memoir, and I found myself absolutely beguiled by Lillian. Her thoughts are melancholy, make no mistake, while she looks back at her life, taking stock, remembering, celebrating, and grieving. But she is so very honest. We see her loneliness, her confusion, her humor and acceptance, her happiness and joy. We also see her compromise herself in more than one relationship. And even though it was always plain to me, as the reader, that Lillian’s inability to truly “connect” with her romantic partners was so clearly related to her stilted relationships with her affection-withholding mother and sweet but nearly invisible father, the fact that Lillian couldn’t see that made her even more real and endearing to me.
Lillian may have lacked insight into certain areas of her life, but I still found her to be an empowered—and empowering—character. I loved how she embraced her sexuality, and I so appreciated that Lester, the author, was willing to write a story about a woman who loved sex and didn’t apologize for it. Lillian may not have, ultimately, made all the decisions that I would have made, but at least she put her cards on the table as best she could. She lived, and wasn’t afraid of living, and I adored her for it.
So, overall, this was a lovely book. I read it in a few short hours and thought about it for days after that. It made me think and appreciate and ponder. I enjoyed every minute I was swept up in these pages, and I eagerly anticipate Alison Jean Lester’s next book.