Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Mary and O'Neil by Justin Cronin

Justin Cronin’s Mary and O’Neil is compiled of short stories. There is a thread of connection among these stories. In the first half, the reader is introduced to and indulged with O’Neil’s life with his parents and his sister. There are vivid descriptions of the relationships between these family members throughout the book. Cronin illustrates the aftermath of the death of O’Neil’s parents as well as the regular interaction with his sister as they cope with day-to-day living as orphans.

Mary does not have much of a presence in these short stories, being introduced half way through the book. The focus is on O’Neil as he constantly visits his sister who is coping with a dysfunctional marriage and her illness. Mary is almost an afterthought with not enough exposure of her marital relationship with O’Neil. It is admirable of her to cope with O’Neil travelling back and forth to a different state to be with his sister in times of her needs.

Cronin captures the realities of family connections and the struggles endured by them. There is humour, joy and deep sorrow; yet somehow life moves forward.

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