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The Evolution of Alice by David Alexander…

The Evolution of Alice

by David Alexander Robertson

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A slice in the life of. That's what this book is. A slice in the life of Alice. Or maybe Gideon, since the told-in-the-first-person sections are his. Over the space of a few months we see, well, what exactly do we see? That's hard to say. For a book that has evolution in the title, not a whole lot of stuff happens. Not that having not a lot happening is a bad thing. But this novel has a very calm, flat feel to it. It's a deep pond, with lots happening underneath, but we never really see the depths. Robinson barely even hints at the depths. A novel primarily of character, there has to be depths in the characters shown, at least in one. Instead, we have sketches or prototypes of the people we see again and again in literary novels: the struggling single mother, the friend secretly in love with her, etc. At least the kids are kids. They aren't wunderkinds. They watch Dora and play with Barbies. I appreciated that.

Parched. That's it. That's the word I'm looking for to describe this book. A dry, dusty, parching of the plot, of the characters. I almost think that A De-evolution of Alice would be a better title, for how what is in the book fades away. I felt it fading. I felt the pain. If books existed in a vacuum, I likely would have appreciated (enjoyed is the wrong word because how can you enjoy a book about disintegration) The Evolution of Alice more if I hadn't read, immediately before starting this book, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. All my emotion was already gutted out of me, scooped out like with a spoon, before I began The Evolution of Alice. The Evolution of Alice is more emotionally manageable than A Little Life, but maybe not as meaningful. I don't think that's the right word. I'm all wrong with words today.

The Evolution of Alice was okay. Okay and nothing more.

The Evolution of Alice by David Alexander Robinson went on sale August 6, 2014.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  reluctantm | Feb 11, 2016 |
The Evolution of Alice by David A. Robertson is a lyrical, haunting, though frustrating story of a mother and her three daughters who live on a reservation. Her story is mostly told through her friend Gideon's eyes who is the most well-drawn character in the story. He is witness to the on-going healing of this family hurt by domestic abuse. and is part of the process itself as his care and love prove vital in their recovery, A brutual loss however forces Alice, her children to examine her life and she will have to decide whether to re-engage with her children, her life and the rez. One of my major difficulties with this book is that I did not feel connected to Alice's story or her struggle. I thought she was the weakest character and her pain and despair did not feel believable to me. Gideon, his father, the girls and some of the other characters, though some are only written about briefly, seeemed more alive and the multiplicity of characters highlighted the interconnectiveness of rez life and community. I only wish I could say the same of Alice. ( )
  Karen59 | Jan 19, 2015 |
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