Within Arm’s Reach

Ann Napolitano does not shy away from writing about real family dynamics even when this means showing the worst in people. She does not seem to care if the reader likes the characters, because here again is a book where it’s hard to find any one character to really like, but somehow you still want to see this family find happiness. You still want to see the main characters find comfort in one another.

This is the third book I have read by the same author and found it closer to Hello Beautiful in that it really focuses on a large family and their interactions with one another and how when the family patriarch (or matriarch) no longer is around, a lot of binds the hold them together fade away over time.

I appreciate that the grittier side of these family dynamics is shown, that life decisions aren’t always easy to explain even to ourselves. Maybe it’s because I come from a big extended family and can appreciate the complexities in relationships between all the different family facets. Ann does such a good job showing it in a story!

While this is similar to Hello Beautiful, I feel that some of the voices are fully developed as this was Ann’s first novel and I did get confused between Lila and Grace at times when it came to who was narrating the chapter. Although they had different likes and dislikes they sounded the same, and in a way, had the same emotional responses to things.

The ending for me was also too ambiguous. I don’t need everything wrapped up in a perfect bow, but I do feel that there were too many loose ends when the book ended. 

Overall I give this 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group / Dial Press for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

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