BOOK REVIEW: ANNE TYLER – REDHEAD BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

Today, it’s another book review of a book on this year’s Booker Prize long-list, Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler.

I’m back with another book review of a book on this year’s Booker long-list, Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road. But first… what is it about? Here’s the synopsis:

Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person you’ll ever meet. His numerous sisters and in-laws regard him oddly but very fondly, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world. He measures out his days running errands for work – his TECH HERMIT sign cheerily displayed on the roof of his car – maintaining an impeccable cleaning regime and going for runs (7:15, every morning). He is content with the steady balance of his life.

But then the order of things starts to tilt. His woman friend Cassia (he refuses to call anyone in her late thirties a ‘girlfriend’) tells him she’s facing eviction because of a cat. And when a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son, Micah is confronted with another surprise he seems poorly equipped to handle. 

Redhead by the Side of the Road┬áis an intimate look into the heart and mind of a man who sometimes finds those around him just out of reach – and a love story about the differences that make us all unique.

I haven’t read anything from Anne Tyler before this book but I have been seeing this book again and again on social media and I had a feeling it would be up for this year’s Booker Prize so I thought I’d wait until then. And here we are, it’s place on the Booker long-list! I was really excited to read this but sadly, it didn’t work for me.

I thought this would be the perfect novel for me. It’s character-driven, full of humour, exploring themes I love to read, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. I think my main problem was that it felt very surface level throughout the book for me. I wanted her to further, deeper into the story and into the mind of Micah as a character. I think the point-of-view in third person was the main problem for me. It all just felt cold and distanced, I would have preferred it to be in the first person and that way we could have had more insight into what Micah is actually thinking.

With it being so cold and distanced, I didn’t care enough about the characters or the story. There were moments where I felt that I should have a stronger emotional reaction but I just went ‘oh, okay’ and moved on. There are some moments of great writing but it all just feels a bit like an underdeveloped short story and not a novel. It just didn’t do it for me.

I think, personally, this is a bit of an odd one out on the Booker long-list this year against the other books. I would have liked to see Actress by Anne Enright or Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell instead.

This is a short and slim novel that you could read on a weekend or on holiday but one that doesn’t stick to the wall. Will I read more Anne Tyler in the future? Who knows…

Have you read Redhead by the Side of the Road? What did you think? Are you an Anne Tyler fan? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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