Monday, August 5, 2013

You Are One of Them

Elliot Holt’s You Are One of Them has an intriguing premise. Sarah’s best friend, Jenny Jones, died in a plane crash not long after visiting Soviet Russia. Ten years later, Sarah receives an email from Moscow, claiming Jenny is still alive.

The delivery, unfortunately, is not nearly as intriguing. Much of the book focuses on the failed relationships in Sarah’s life: with her older sister, with her father, with various lovers. Part of the book flashes back to Sarah and Jenny’s friendship. The latter half covers Sarah’s experiences in Moscow.

Anyone expecting a mystery will be disappointed by the final revelation. This book is not genre fiction and fails to follow any generic formula. However, One of Them is a nice example of literary fiction. Sarah moves to Moscow during the mid-90s. Having lived in Ukraine during the late 90s, the descriptions of the post-Soviet era ring true for me. Holt’s descriptions of places, people, and attitudes feel accurate.

 Read this book for the writing and setting and not for the mystery.

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