Here* is my Shelf Awareness for Readers review for Jessica Lott’s debut novel The Rest of Us Simon & Schuster, $24.99, hardcover, 9781451645873. The advance reader’s copy came with blurbs from Elissa Schappell, Ha Jin and Adam Langer. Many years in the business watching blurbs come in made me no less impressed by this line-up. And indeed, I very much enjoyed this novel overall, with just a few minor quibbles.
The reviews so far have also been very good. The Boston Globe commented, “[I]n the hands of a lesser writer, Jessica Lott’s literary debut could have become clichéd chick lit. But Lott focuses less on the beginnings of the relationship than on its aftermath, years later, and “The Rest of Us” proves to be a compelling, resonant, richly nuanced, and sometimes heartbreaking portrait of cross-generational love and the meaning of art.” Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air says “Lott nails that sense of being stalled, of being an adjunct in life when everybody else seems to be a fully inducted player….Lott executes some unexpected riffs on the student-professor relationship plot.” The Chicago Tribune says that”from the start it’s evident that Lott has a mordantly acute comic sensibility” and notes that the novel feels so alive it feels autobiographical.
It is interesting to me that something both the latter two reviews saw as comic struck me as mannered (the quotation marks around the commentary of famous artists and writers). I completely got the irony and critique of the self-importance of cultural celebrities but still saw it as more self-conscious than comedic. It is always useful to look at something from another point of view.