I didn’t love this book as much as I thought I would. After reading A Little Life, I was looking for another book that would leave me in similar emotional turmoil, and while this was the book that was recommended as a similar read to A Little Life, it did not fulfill my emotional needs in the same way.
The Great Believers is a story that spans a group of friends relationships through decades, and it has a great deal to do with the AIDS crisis in Chicago in the 80’s and 90s. Additionally, The Great Believers is about a sense of belonging in the art world. This book is about family, and how we bring people together or push people away at different points throughout our lives.
I think the reason I didn’t connect with this book as much was that it felt quite scattered, especially in the beginning. It took me a long time to connect with any of the characters, and there were just so many of them that it felt hard to keep their personalities straight. I didn’t feel excited to pick up this book each time I was reading it, although once I got back into the story it was easy to read 100 pages in one sitting. I didn’t care as much about Fiona’s quest to find her daughter, and felt that that plot drew the story away from the overall themes, although I suppose perhaps that is by design, and maybe an example of how throughout our lives there are dozens of things pulling us in different directions all the time, some of which feel more related than others. Just like the art collection that Yale was working on for so long and felt so emotionally connected to.
Anyways, I would recommend this book if you have time to spend with it, but I didn’t feel blown away by it at any point in time.