Days of Awe (★★★☆☆)

Days of Awe Fox

Lauren Fox  *  Knopf  *  August 4, 2015  *  272 Pages

Days of Awe, by Lauren Fox, is a story about 40-something-year old Izzy Moore, a woman struggling to cope after her best friend, Josie, dies in a random (and somewhat mysterious) car accident. Her inability to deal with her friend’s death has put extra strain on her already strained marriage, and, eventually, her husband decides to move out. To top it off, Izzy’s fragile emotional state has also hurt her relationship with her tween daughter, Hannah, and the two seem to be slowly, but resolutely, moving away from each other. So, suffice it to say that Izzy is in transition, and, in the story, she basically has to find a way to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and build something new with them.

As a character, Izzy is undoubtedly endearing. She is honest and genuine, almost sweetly childlike in her battered and vulnerable state. And she’s funny! Clever, caustic, irreverent, bold, and also slightly odd. I loved her. Sure, she was lost and unfocused–sometimes even a bit whiney and obnoxious, truthfully–but I was rooting for her. I so wanted her to find some peace and happiness.

The problem with the book, though, is that Izzy’s internal life doesn’t go anywhere. Izzy doesn’t progress. She doesn’t grow. She never becomes better or wiser or smarter. Instead, she thoughtlessly reacts and reacts and reacts to almost every little thing life throws at her, leaving basically no room for reflection. She never stops wallowing.

I understand that sometimes life is like this; sometimes we are stuck. Sometimes we wallow. And I was happy to support Izzy’s melancholy at the beginning of the story, but, by the end, I wanted more. By the end, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, “You’re better than this, Izzy! Stop hiding and deflecting and making jokes about your feelings like a child. Be brave, and live your real life, for God’s sake. Why choose to be a despondent mess?”

Ultimately, I so wish Fox had developed Izzy into a character that was less adolescent and more thoughtful and mature. While I was initially intrigued by Izzy’s likability and complexity as a character, as well as the premise (and mystery) of her situation, she surprisingly and unfortunately never evolved past her whiny and self-absorbed despair. As is, the last half of Days of Awe ended up being a disappointment.

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