I’m going to be completely honest. Want by Lynn Steger Strong was one of my most anticipated books for this year. Not only is the cover art absolutely gorgeous, but the book description and reviews that I read on Amazon back in March had me completely sold on the book and I preordered it several months in advance. I read this book within a day, and while it was a quick read, I felt that the storyline fell flat and was overall disappointed that it did not live up to my expectations.
Years after arriving in New York to build a new life, Elizabeth has found herself with a PhD, two children, a husband, two jobs and in the process of filing for bankruptcy. While trying to balance her dreams and the impossibility of ever achieving them, her home and work life are on the verge of collapsing and the only way to help quiet her thoughts from all the noise is by waking up at ungodly hours of the morning to run miles by the river. After being estranged from her long-lost childhood friend for years, she finally re-connects with Sasha as she is experiencing a crisis of her own, opening up the possibility for them to come back into one another’s lives.
While reading the book, I was disappointed to see that the story essentially just covers a day in the life of Elizabeth and her husband over the course of a short period of time while they go through the process of filing for bankruptcy. By the end of the story, I felt like I didn’t get to know Elizabeth’s character and her dreams/desires as deeply as I would’ve liked to, despite how complex her character was. I also would have loved to know more about what was happening with her and her husband after filing for bankruptcy and reclaiming their lives, as well as how they even got into their financial predicament in the first place. When it came to the friendship between Elizabeth and Sasha, I was happy that they seemingly rekindled their relationship toward the end of the story, but it’s a very quick rekindling that still left me with some questions. It wasn’t what I was expecting since the book description made it sound like the rekindling of this friendship was more of a major plot in the story.
In this story, Lynn Steger Strong explores a lot of different themes such as economic fragility, the apparent safeguard of middle-class jobs and Ivy League education, and the broken American dream, but again, seemingly not as deeply as I was expecting. I finished the book feeling like there was still so much potential to strengthen or deepen the story and these various themes, and that the story simply fell flat.
If you’ve read Want by Lynn Steger Strong, or have it on your TBR list, please reach out to me because I would love to discuss this further and hear your thoughts!
BEER RECOMMENDATION: Want by Lynn Steger Strong is best paired with Cush by Cushwa Brewing Company. This crushable hazy IPA is fruity, piney and lightly jammy in flavor with a bready malt backbone to balance it out 🍻