A few weeks ago we asked all of our readers to send in their book reviews of A Visit From the Goon Squad for our Reviewer Spotlight contest—out of all those entries, this very personal review was the one we chose to feature.
Review by Helene Paquin
I’m not sure what led me to reserve this book at my local library, but I’m glad I did. Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad is an entertaining read and I’ll be sure to pick up her previous books when I return this one. Contrary to her journalistic background, she uses a different writing style for each chapter and ignores the rule that stories usually follow a sequential timeline—it’s the opposite of a newspaper article.
The structure confused me a bit at the beginning, but I began to look forward to the changes as I progressed. Every nerd likes a good puzzle. Also, her usage of PowerPoint slides for one chapter is brilliant, and is reason enough to get this book. I promise you’ll be the conversation guru at any parents’ committee get-together if you read it.
Egan’s sharp-witted one-liners had me chuckling out loud, but I also felt deep sadness, and at times, even a bit of envy. You see, I was never the “cool” kid growing up. Reading about the band members was my way of living rebellion. Part of me wanted the characters to prosper and succeed. The other half wanted to watch them fail and convince myself that I didn’t miss out on anything by following the geek path straight to university. Silly, isn’t it, to feel this way in mid-life because of a book? That’s the power of her writing: You travel back in time and reflect on your life’s choices. The camaraderie and conflicts of these characters reminded me of the classic film The Big Chill. Creative, contemporary, and smart, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a pleasant one indeed.
To buy your print or PDF Bookclub-in-a-Box discussion guide to A Visit From the Goon Squad, click here.