by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Published May 11, 2021
by Celadon Books
Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Suspense
THE PLOT! (See what I did there?!)
Jake is a struggling author trying to reclaim the small amount of fame he felt from his first book. Problem is, he can’t seem to write anything and his lackluster ideas take years to get down on paper and fizzle out before they even start. Teaching a three-week, immersive creative writing course for Ripley College, Jake feels burnt out and underwhelmed with his life.
When he meets student Evan Parker, Jake is less than impressed with Parker’s arrogance and overconfidence. Parker claims he has the next big American novel on his hands and isn’t shy about letting people know. However, he keeps the plot close to his chest. In a constructive session, Jake is able to get Parker to open up a bit about the plot and he’s dismayed when he actually agrees that there’s no way the book won’t be a hit.
Years later, stuck in another dead end job and working on a novel going nowhere, Jake thinks back to his old student Evan Parker, wondering why he never saw the great American novel hit shelves. Turns out, Evan Parker died shortly after the creative writing class. Is it really stealing if Jake writes the whole book on his own and just uses the basic plot line designed by Parker? Can Jake live with himself if he does?
Holy WOW did I enjoy this book! With a little more than half to go, I literally could not flip the pages fast enough and stayed up way past my bedtime to finish!
This was such an interesting novel about morality and right versus wrong, how to live with guilt, and the impact of our decisions on ourselves and others. Additionally, it discussed some very relevant topics such as cultural appropriation and the impact of social media, bloggers and early reviewers on authors and literature. Being an early reviewer, blogger, and Goodreads user, I loved the references to those platforms and the viewpoints from the publishers and authors.
I couldn’t give this one the full five stars because admittedly I found the first chapter to be a slog (it was all dramatically uphill from there) and I figured out the basic twist less than halfway through (this did not in any way slow my reading down and actually probably sped it up because I HAD to know if I was right!).
I really loved the format of this book with the novel within a novel. I was totally enthralled with Crib and loved the snippets we got. I felt like Jake’s ethical dilemma was fairly authentic and it was hard to watch him unraveling as he let his guilt eat away at him.
I really loved this book and it’s definitely one I will recommend. It’s my first by Hanff Korelitz but certainly won’t be my last!
Thank you to Celadon and NetGalley for a copy of this novel.