There are times when one wants to escape, read something beachy but also compelling. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter is the perfect selection for such a moment. With a whole host of engrossing characters, vivid descriptions of places (including coastal Italy), and thought-provoking discussions of the complexities of life, I found myself eagerly anticipating every word, every scene.
The author strikes the delicate balance between tying things up satisfactorily and keeping the story believable. I found myself feeling that everything was turning out OK even when things didn’t turn out as expected or hoped. There were plenty of twists and turns, paths crossing and diverging and crossing again.
The book so eloquently depicts how–in the end–life is such a hodgepodge of where we start, what happens to us, and the turns we take along the way. Even when one dramatically veers from a particular path, there always remains the possibility of circling back to tie up unfinished business. Even if circling back never happens, it is still possible to find great happiness on the new path and retain wonderful memories from the old one. With lines like “And even if they don’t find what they’re looking for, isn’t it enough to be out walking together in the sunlight?,” I never wanted the story to end.