Book Review #22: Weather by Jenny Offill (2020)

Review: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Weather: A Novel
Author: Jenny Offill
Published: 2020 (Alfred A. Knopf, New York)
Pages: 207 (Hardcover)
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary, New Releases
Link Here

Borrowed copy of Weather held over a sink-full of white peaches

Hi everyone! Okay. First of all, I loved this book. I really did not think I would, but after I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. It was a small book in general, but I was intrigued from beginning to end. This book is part fictional memoir, literary work, and humor-filled tale. Weather narrates main character and city dweller Lizzie as she navigates her life as a librarian at a university where she once had a lot of promise as a student. She is wife to a content Ben, a mother to young Eli, daughter of her troubled mother, and a sister to her drug addict brother who can’t seem to get his life in order Henry. Lizzie fulfills her roles, while struggling with her own questions, while answering deranged and questioning emails for her former mentor Sylvia’s podcast.

I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself, so you don’t need to worry that your pain might hurt me” – Jenny Offill, Weather

I did not find this book depressing like I’ve read some others have thought. But it’s definitely not a joyful read. The writing was full of wit, humor and the book read like poetry in short prose. Lizzie is a complicated character who is waiting for the next disaster and trying not to spiral while taking care of everyone around her. Her monologues about her daily life and consciousness were compelling. Through Lizzie, Weather also addresses current issues such as climate change (partially where the title comes from), government, apocalypse and psychology. I can see why others have complained about Lizzie’s character, but I believe she’s more relatable and like a lot of persons of this time.

Young person worry: What if nothing I do matters? Old person worry: What if everything I do does?” – Jenny Offill, Weather

I felt oddly reminiscent by the relationship between Lizzie and her brother Henry. I’ve spoken on here before about how I have a relative who struggles with drug addiction. I can relate to the relationship between Lizzie and Henry. Maybe not entirely the same, but their interactions and dynamic relationship are too familiar. Lizzie apparently would spiral when her brother did, but in her own disastrous way. I cannot relate to Lizzie in that way exactly, but I understand the feeling when one family member spirals the others spend a moment rethinking their position existentially.

What it means to be a good person, a moral person, is calculated differently in times of crisis than in ordinary circumstances” – Jenny Offill, Weather

The book was fully human and bitter-sweet. Offill’s writing reminded me of one of my favorite contemporary authors, Ottessa Moshfegh. Both authors have similar cynicism and direct syntax in their writing. I recommend this book if you’re looking for a fictional story among a bustling city that addresses current day issues surrounding a cautious yet semi-hopeful younger woman. The book should also be a fairly quick read, around 200 pages and the pages are not filled with multiple paragraphs.

‘Your people have finally fallen into history’, he said, ‘The rest of us are already here’” – Jenny Offill, Weather

I give this book a 4 out of 5!

_Elizabeth

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