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The Spectacular

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It’s taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms, from the author of The Best Kind of People.  It’s 1997 and Missy’s band has finally hit the big time as they tour across America. At twenty-two years old, It’s taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms, from the author of The Best Kind of People.  It’s 1997 and Missy’s band has finally hit the big time as they tour across America. At twenty-two years old, Missy gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. Missy is the only girl in the band and she’s determined to party just as hard as everyone else, loving and leaving someone in every town. But then a forgotten party favour strands her at the border.  Forty-something Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga centre where she has been living, when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in ten years—on the cover of a music magazine.  Ruth is eighty-three and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. But when her granddaughter Missy winds up crashing at her house, she decides it’s time that the strong and stubborn women in her family find a way to understand each other again.  In her new book, by turns sharp and provocative, Zoe Whittall captures three generations of very different women who struggle to build an authentic life in the absence of traditional familial and marital structures. Definitions of family, romance, gender and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular. 


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It’s taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms, from the author of The Best Kind of People.  It’s 1997 and Missy’s band has finally hit the big time as they tour across America. At twenty-two years old, It’s taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms, from the author of The Best Kind of People.  It’s 1997 and Missy’s band has finally hit the big time as they tour across America. At twenty-two years old, Missy gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. Missy is the only girl in the band and she’s determined to party just as hard as everyone else, loving and leaving someone in every town. But then a forgotten party favour strands her at the border.  Forty-something Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga centre where she has been living, when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in ten years—on the cover of a music magazine.  Ruth is eighty-three and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. But when her granddaughter Missy winds up crashing at her house, she decides it’s time that the strong and stubborn women in her family find a way to understand each other again.  In her new book, by turns sharp and provocative, Zoe Whittall captures three generations of very different women who struggle to build an authentic life in the absence of traditional familial and marital structures. Definitions of family, romance, gender and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular. 

30 review for The Spectacular

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    This story is a look back at the changing gender revolutions going on in the 1980s and 90s. It looks at three generations of women and how their lives have played out. Missy is 22, the lead singer in a band out on tour. She’s not managing her life particularly well - pregnant, doing drugs, having sex with all and sundry. Her mother, Carola, had walked out of her life on a commune when her daughter was just a child, leaving Missy behind. In 1997, she’s caught up in a sex scandal at an ashram. Rut This story is a look back at the changing gender revolutions going on in the 1980s and 90s. It looks at three generations of women and how their lives have played out. Missy is 22, the lead singer in a band out on tour. She’s not managing her life particularly well - pregnant, doing drugs, having sex with all and sundry. Her mother, Carola, had walked out of her life on a commune when her daughter was just a child, leaving Missy behind. In 1997, she’s caught up in a sex scandal at an ashram. Ruth is 83, having been a real presence in Missy’s life and having introduced her to the cello. I wasn’t sure what to make of any of these women. All are trying to find their “authentic lives”, to quote the book description. But what happens when seeking your best life means hurting others? All at various times are called on to make decisions about being a mother. The book felt divided in half and I much preferred the first half. The second half moves to 2013. Ruth is dead, Carola is some sort of self awareness guru, Missy all of a sudden wants to be a mother. The first half of the book seemed much edgier. It tackled the idea that not everyone wants to or should be a mother. Now, we’re subjected to Missy’s ticking biological clock. It seemed to meander more in the second half. The problem I had was that I never quite connected with any of the women for long periods of time. Having never wanted my own children, I expected to connect, given the way the book started. But the second half of the book was such an about face, it threw me. This was just an ok story. Nothing special. Nothing to deserve the title. It didn’t live up to my expectations after what I thought was a really strong opening. My thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an advance copy of this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    As this story begins, it’s 1997 and Missy Alamo is a bit of a wild child at the age of 22, she’s the only female member of an indie rock band, who is at the moment stuck alone in a Vancouver hotel room. She’s missing the high from being onstage, the adulation. Now she’s alone, pregnant, with a throbbing ankle, with a hangover. Since her mother left without much of a goodbye, Missy isn’t interested in repeating the pattern. She picks up the newspaper left in the room and sees the headline Sex Sca As this story begins, it’s 1997 and Missy Alamo is a bit of a wild child at the age of 22, she’s the only female member of an indie rock band, who is at the moment stuck alone in a Vancouver hotel room. She’s missing the high from being onstage, the adulation. Now she’s alone, pregnant, with a throbbing ankle, with a hangover. Since her mother left without much of a goodbye, Missy isn’t interested in repeating the pattern. She picks up the newspaper left in the room and sees the headline Sex Scandal at Ashram, along with a photo of a group of ‘hippie ladies’ - a term I’m pretty sure, even at the time, would not have been used. She scans the photo and finds her mother, Carola, among them. Her mother, who walked away from Missy’s father and Missy when she was a child for another life. Later on, Carola’s mother-in-law and Missy’s grandmother, Ruth, enters this story. The story is shared among these three women, their stories are as different as they are. Missy has never understood her mother’s reasons for leaving, but loves her grandmother. Their stories are messy. Life is messy. Unsurprisingly, this is a story that focuses on the emerging themes associated with each of these generations. Perhaps the ‘hippie generation’ didn’t invent the concept of ‘free love’ but it is a term attributed to them. Their parents, slightly less likely to have had sex before marriage, let alone multiple partners before marriage. After marriage? That’s another story. The desire, or lack of desire to have children, and the responsibility that comes with parenthood. Gender identity/fluidity is another theme as the years pass and we enter a more current time. These eras, these individual stories are shared separately but the voices aren’t distinct, which works better at times than others. Sometimes it flows beautifully, more often - for me - it muddles things, leaving me perplexed. At the heart of this story lies the central concept that life should be lived life on one’s own terms, but each generation creates their own terms, rejecting former mores. That’s how life evolves. It’s messy. Published: 14 Sep 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Thank you Harper Collins Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! I couldn’t put this novel down, it was just compulsively readable and so engrossing, pulling you in different directions. What starts out as a kick-ass novel ends in a different kind of kick-ass life. This book is told with mostly two POVs (but at one point, we get a third POV). We learn about how these three women have been affected just because of the time they’re born in. We see the different societal expectations an Thank you Harper Collins Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! I couldn’t put this novel down, it was just compulsively readable and so engrossing, pulling you in different directions. What starts out as a kick-ass novel ends in a different kind of kick-ass life. This book is told with mostly two POVs (but at one point, we get a third POV). We learn about how these three women have been affected just because of the time they’re born in. We see the different societal expectations and how they must each live up to them ... and how they fail. The parallels between Missy, her mom Carola, and Missy’s grandmother is beautiful to read about, but also sad. This book might not end in the way you expect it to, but I think we get a great ending with a lot of character development, love, and acceptance. Definitely a must-read!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    In her new (fourth) novel, Canadian writer Zoe Whittall explores matters of female autonomy, self-actualization, sexuality/sexual identity, and motherhood. She presents the story from the first-person point of view of three related women: Melissa (“Missy”) Wood; her mother Carola; and Missy’s paternal grandmother, Ruth. The novel opens in 1997, but moves backwards and forwards in time. We’re introduced to the main character, twenty-one-year-old Missy first, as she goes from one women’s health cl In her new (fourth) novel, Canadian writer Zoe Whittall explores matters of female autonomy, self-actualization, sexuality/sexual identity, and motherhood. She presents the story from the first-person point of view of three related women: Melissa (“Missy”) Wood; her mother Carola; and Missy’s paternal grandmother, Ruth. The novel opens in 1997, but moves backwards and forwards in time. We’re introduced to the main character, twenty-one-year-old Missy first, as she goes from one women’s health clinic to the next, demanding a tubal ligation. She wants the same sexual freedom as the men in the indie band she’s about to tour the US with. Missy has a lover in almost every major city, she has no appetite for commitment to anyone but herself, and zero interest in becoming a mother. At every clinic, she’s rejected for the sterilization surgery because of her age. She could change her mind, say all the doctors. In the subsequent chapters that concern her, we learn of her wildly hedonistic life on the road with the guys. These sections are full of graphic descriptions of sexual encounters and drug use, with a fair number of other sordid details to boot. Though I understood that Whittall was likely wanting to contrast attitudes of women who came of age at different times, I found little to like or interest me in Missy from the get-go and I liked the explicit sex scenes even less. These were possibly informed by the author’s generation’s exposure to online porn. I considered bailing on the novel, but persisted to see if Whittall would move on from that material when providing the perspectives of the older women. I was relieved and more interested in the book when she did. Still, that couldn’t ultimately redeem this novel for me. The story itself seemed to have a certain potential: Missy grew up on a Vermont commune, an “intentional community” called Sunflower, founded by her mother, father, and another couple. When we get Missy’s mother’s perspective, we learn that Carola felt intense ambivalence about motherhood practically from the moment she conceived her daughter. Although she feared she’d made a serious error, she managed to suppress the anxiety, dutifully playing the role of mother for more than a decade. (She ferried her daughter and another girl on the commune to town for mainstream medical care, even having the children secretly vaccinated.) However, her sense of constriction and unease only grew over the years. When her child was about to enter grade eight, Carola left the commune without notice, ultimately landing at a New Hampshire ashram, determined to live a life of service that would help her “find herself” and provide expiation. Carola’s narrative explores not only the troubles at the ashram (view spoiler)[including a now almost cliché story of a guru who sexually exploits his followers (hide spoiler)] but also the challenges of her own childhood and youth. Elderly Ruth’s story is one of displacement and marital unhappiness. Born to well-to-do British parents in Turkey, Ruth and her family fled Smyrna when war broke out in the early 1920s and the Anatolian city burned. In the 1950s, Ruth and her husband, Frank, ended up in Montreal, with Frank’s mistress installed just down the street. For me Missy, who is clearly at the centre of this novel, is its weakest link. In the last third of the book, set over fifteen years after the earlier sections, Missy has undergone a major, inexplicable transformation. (view spoiler)[First of all, she has married. The reader is given no clue as to how this came about. But even more surprisingly, she’s moved from full rejection of motherhood to an almost irrational compulsion to reproduce in her late thirties. What does remain consistent is that she’ll have sex with anyone to make this happen—even an Uber driver. (hide spoiler)] There’s a ton of gender ideology nonsense in this last bit, including a character met at a bar who uses the third person plural pronoun. (view spoiler)[I refuse to buy into the madness of crowds and the current delusional thinking and refer to any single person as “they” and “them”. This is the first book I’ve read that appears to expect me to do this. (hide spoiler)] Whittall’s writing, which is initially hardly “spectacular” early on, is at least serviceable. At the end, it reads— at both the syntax and content levels— like something thrown together by a teenager in a writers’ workshop. I went into the book knowing nothing about Whittall, other than that she gained some celebrity in Canada at the time her third novel came out. I often go into a novel cold, knowing little about the plot and usually disregarding the blurbs. Sometimes, though, readers should pay attention to who writes those blurbs. I know I ought to have this time around. Seeing Torrey Peter’s glowing praise on the cover should have cinched it for me. The vulgar epigraphs and the dedication were further warnings that I failed to heed. I can’t imagine anyone thinking this was a good book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Spectacular presupposes its own expectations. It would be hugely ironic and quite sad for the novel with a title like that to turn out to be a middling mediocrity. And sure enough, it begins spectacularly…boldly, excitingly, it promises all the spectacular things, poised on a brink of awesomeness like Missy, the protagonist (well, one of them) herself. It begins like this…a 21 year old musician about to set off on tour with her punk band tries desperately to do the responsible thing and have he Spectacular presupposes its own expectations. It would be hugely ironic and quite sad for the novel with a title like that to turn out to be a middling mediocrity. And sure enough, it begins spectacularly…boldly, excitingly, it promises all the spectacular things, poised on a brink of awesomeness like Missy, the protagonist (well, one of them) herself. It begins like this…a 21 year old musician about to set off on tour with her punk band tries desperately to do the responsible thing and have her tubes tied. Because she wants to party her way through the tour like a proper punk, because she doesn’t trust the partners she (quite indiscriminately) chooses or herself or condoms, because she hasn’t had the kind of nurturing experience with her own mother and it’s left her convinced she shall never want kinds of her own. Missy has many very reasonable reasons. And because it’s 1997 and because our society is then as it is now very patriarchal and sexist and because America in many ways has always been true to its puritanical ways of yore no one is willing to help her and she is constantly and consistently told she will later change her mind and give in to her biology. And so Missy goes on the tour with her tubes free and untied and promptly gets knocked up. Meanwhile her storyline alternates with that of her estranged mother, Carola, whose hippieesque ways (as a form of her rebellion against her own strict and repressed mother) have led her from city life to a commune to a yoga cult. Carola is an interesting character, because although she did become a mother at a young age and in spite of her many reservations, she has never quite taken to it naturally and eventually left it altogether, her marriage, her commune, her daughter…in what seems like a profoundly selfish act which in fact for her was pure self preservation. And then there’s a sidebar of Ruth, Missy’s father’s mother, whose life is briefly (page percentage wise) recollected as she is getting ready to wrap it all up and let it all go. Ruth has had been married to a blatant cheater and her only joy in life has been her son and then his daughter, Missy. So the first section of the novel presets the stage for a fascinating multigenerational drama of unhappy marriages and challenging motherhoods. It’s so well written and engaging that you don’t even need to like or relate to characters to completely immerse yourself in their journeys. Plus it has such a strikingly original and (it shouldn’t be but it is) bold message of…maybe not everyone is cut out to be a mother and that’s ok. And then the novel skips time, 16 years of it, and becomes every clichés out of the women’s fiction playbook Sure, it’s more hip, more queer, more challenging than most of those, but the bottom line is babies, babies, babies. Everyone wants then, everyone needs them, they give life meaning in the way no other thing or person can, etc. It’s almost as if the author just plopped her ovaries on her keyboard for the second section of the book, set her metronome to biological clock and went to town on it. All the originality of the initial premise, all the bold subversive dynamics of it…thrown right out of the proverbial window. It’s so hugely, spectacularly disappointing. And it pretty much eclipses all other aspects of the novel. Which is a crying shame, because it’s so good otherwise. There are such clever parallels between all the female characters in the book, the ways their choices sort of echo each other through the years, from abandoning pursuit of former education to finding love late in life, etc. But in the end, it’s an estrogen party through and through, with diapers all over it. What began as such a fun and awesome book, because yet another baby book. And this novel will work for you in direct proportion to where you are on the babies subject. Which means for me it didn’t do all that much and certainly not as much as it might have. Loved the writing, loved the character development, didn’t care for the message. But if you’re looking for a perfect Mother’s day read about imperfect mothers, this is for you Thanks Netgalley. This and more at https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/

  6. 4 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    My mother’s only terrible disease was maternal indifference, and that was something I knew I’d inherited. Zoe Whittall is one of my favourite Canadian authors. I have read, and given five stars, to both The Best Kind of People and The Middle Ground. This is a story of three generations of women from the same family. I loved the writing in this book, all three characters were so real and flawed but all three women were strong, had dreams and hopes for the future and just wanted to live their b My mother’s only terrible disease was maternal indifference, and that was something I knew I’d inherited. Zoe Whittall is one of my favourite Canadian authors. I have read, and given five stars, to both The Best Kind of People and The Middle Ground. This is a story of three generations of women from the same family. I loved the writing in this book, all three characters were so real and flawed but all three women were strong, had dreams and hopes for the future and just wanted to live their best lives. This is a book with many themes but motherhood and feminism is at the forefront and Zoe Whittall manages to get her point across without hitting you over the head with it. I want to cross the country with the freedom of any man my age. I want to experience every spectacular, vivid detail of life on the road. The story is also very inclusive, there are many different types of people represented in the book, especially from the LGBTQ community. I appreciated that the author did this. The many characters in this book were eye opening to me and I will remember them for a long time. The pilot itself is well developed and multilayered, it was very literary and written with such lyrical prose. If you enjoy intelligent, witty writing with a message this is the book for you. With many thanks to Netgalley, Zoe Whittall and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for granting my wish and the giving of the ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The evolution and change of these real people was fluid and what life really looks like at least to me. We orbit through three generations of women's lives, through their choices, needs, wants, mistakes, hopes, dreams, pain, misery, growth and evolution to the next steps on their path. How to even describe Ruth, Carola, and Melissa (Ruth, Juniper and Missy). They each struggled in their relationships and marriages and were taken advantage of or taken care of going into the next relationships. They The evolution and change of these real people was fluid and what life really looks like at least to me. We orbit through three generations of women's lives, through their choices, needs, wants, mistakes, hopes, dreams, pain, misery, growth and evolution to the next steps on their path. How to even describe Ruth, Carola, and Melissa (Ruth, Juniper and Missy). They each struggled in their relationships and marriages and were taken advantage of or taken care of going into the next relationships. They were each strong independent women until they were not. They each had such strong ideas of the world and their path, then life experiences and change made those ideas different. The decisions that these women could and could not make with their own lives and bodies because they are women is an ongoing struggle and fight in this country (I am looking at you Texas!) and the world. I enjoyed the relationships in this book though some were heartbreaking, some found their love the second time around, it's ok to not work together, it isn't a failure. People change there is only one life you can move on and be friends but cmon dont cheat! I loved Missy's timeline for how strong she was and her encounter with Andie and how that changed her outlook on her sexuality. How she started off wanting an abortion than in her 40's wanting a baby. I will tell you hormones are crazy. (I thought breastfeeding sounded gross in a new mom class one weekend, then a few days later my 1st came a month early and I got a rush of new hormones and mama bear deep voice whipped my boob out and said give her to me, my tiny 3 pd baby). Not every woman can be or wants to be a mother. Sometimes it's overwhelming emotionally or financially. I felt these 3 women's pain across their timelines, their need for connection, their need to run away but want to be found, I wanted to slap all the men they chose to be with. Thank you randomhouse and netgalley for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    3.5 rounded up, because I really wish I'd liked this a lot more than I ended up liking it. It starts very strong, and I loved the Missy chapters, but by the end I was just kind of... I don't know, the steam ran out and I didn't really care about anyone as much as I had at the beginning. The excitement dwindled until I was finally grateful to just reach the end. I think one problem was that I felt it skipped too much time at one point, and it never recovered from that fumble. But rounding it up b 3.5 rounded up, because I really wish I'd liked this a lot more than I ended up liking it. It starts very strong, and I loved the Missy chapters, but by the end I was just kind of... I don't know, the steam ran out and I didn't really care about anyone as much as I had at the beginning. The excitement dwindled until I was finally grateful to just reach the end. I think one problem was that I felt it skipped too much time at one point, and it never recovered from that fumble. But rounding it up because the writing was good, and the story had potential. I'm willing to concede I just lost interest because of personal taste.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    So far everyone else has seemed to love this book, so clearly I'm in the minority here. I got tired of Missy's back and forth about having a baby, and I wasn't particularly interested in Carola's story. I wanted more from Ruth, but sadly it didn't happen. For some reason after reading the current synopsis I thought that this book would be different from what it was. Kindly received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So far everyone else has seemed to love this book, so clearly I'm in the minority here. I got tired of Missy's back and forth about having a baby, and I wasn't particularly interested in Carola's story. I wanted more from Ruth, but sadly it didn't happen. For some reason after reading the current synopsis I thought that this book would be different from what it was. Kindly received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joshie Nicole readwithjoshie

    Thank you so much to Harper Collins Canada for my eARC in exchange for an honest review. Like The Best Kind of People, The Spectacular wastes no time getting into the gritty, raw characters of Missy, Carola, and Ruth. I am such a sucker for strong female protagonists, and watching as each of these women navigated situations that were less than desirable (a terminal illness, an unwanted pregnancy, and a toxic relationship with a romantic partner and motherhood) was a fascinating and rewarding jou Thank you so much to Harper Collins Canada for my eARC in exchange for an honest review. Like The Best Kind of People, The Spectacular wastes no time getting into the gritty, raw characters of Missy, Carola, and Ruth. I am such a sucker for strong female protagonists, and watching as each of these women navigated situations that were less than desirable (a terminal illness, an unwanted pregnancy, and a toxic relationship with a romantic partner and motherhood) was a fascinating and rewarding journey for this reader. I felt like I knew these women – Whittall exposes them completely and I adored them from beginning to end (even when I was frustrated with them). This novel features queer, nonbinary, and trans representation, and a lot of unapologetic sex from the main female characters (something that I find to be rare, but wonderful, in literature). I loved exploring themes of what it means to be a mother (and to want to be a mother), relationships & love (in all its forms – from familial, to self, to friendship, to romantic), desire, and identity. I adored this novel. I loved the way that Whittall explored the expectations placed upon women and how they carefully and intentionally defied them and reshaped them to fit their needs. Missy is a character that I won’t soon forget. There is something that just works for me when it comes to Whittall’s prose. To me, this novel was propulsive with just enough plot development layered in with the deep character development that I love so much in my literature. If you have liked Whittall’s other work, you’ll want to pick this one up. Out August 24, 2021.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Carbol

    4.5 ⭐️s rounded up to 5! Thank you so much to Harper Collins Canada for sending me an ARC in exchange for review. The Spectacular follows three women as they grapple with questions of gender, sexuality, and motherhood. Always gripping, often challenging, and finally beautiful, I found this book to be a refreshingly blunt look at womanhood. While I was sometimes scandalized by the characters’ frank depictions of their sex lives, failures, and dark emotions, I felt it was a worthwhile adventure int 4.5 ⭐️s rounded up to 5! Thank you so much to Harper Collins Canada for sending me an ARC in exchange for review. The Spectacular follows three women as they grapple with questions of gender, sexuality, and motherhood. Always gripping, often challenging, and finally beautiful, I found this book to be a refreshingly blunt look at womanhood. While I was sometimes scandalized by the characters’ frank depictions of their sex lives, failures, and dark emotions, I felt it was a worthwhile adventure into spaces many women aren’t able to comfortably speak about (but that most of us experience). With three POV characters, this book was able to tackle some intense and controversial topics with nuance as each woman responded to similar (or the same) experiences in her own way. While the plot follows ordinary life, the title points to what we are all searching for in the mundane: the spectacular. My only complaint is that I felt the middle (particularly after a significant time jump) was a little slow. Otherwise it would have been five stars for me! The Spectacular comes out August 24, 2021.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    The Spectacular has several wheels turning at once: those of the three generations of women the story follows. It feels primarily like Missy's story, the protagonist punk rock musician who we meet when she's at the brink of success in her rebellious 20s. It makes sense that her mother and grandmother are woven into her story as our other narrators. Whittall's execution of this is masterful: she manages to give Ruth and Carola/Juniper their own voices, backstories, and depth of personality while The Spectacular has several wheels turning at once: those of the three generations of women the story follows. It feels primarily like Missy's story, the protagonist punk rock musician who we meet when she's at the brink of success in her rebellious 20s. It makes sense that her mother and grandmother are woven into her story as our other narrators. Whittall's execution of this is masterful: she manages to give Ruth and Carola/Juniper their own voices, backstories, and depth of personality while adding to Missy's story (as well as each others). The story I read felt slightly different than the summary blurb (on the advanced reader's copy I received from the publisher), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a little difficult to pin this story down without spoiling too much of the family's experience. Each woman led very different lives, yet they were brought together by basic tenets of family and the struggles we often face behind closed doors. The women struggled with sexuality, relationships, family, finding yourself- a variety of experiences we've all shared despite their differences. The Spectacular was a slowly addicting read, full of conflicts and love, succeeding and failing, and reexamining the failures we've all made in a new light. The relatable, complex characters carried their difficult stories not with ease but with strength, which gives any reader something to hold onto.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    THE SPECTACULAR by Zoe Whittall is an amazing novel that I loved!! It’s about Missy, who’s in a band, and her mother, Carola. I loved the strong female voice in the writing and the exploration of the mother and daughter relationship. I also loved the queer and trans representation and the expansive timeline and age range in the characters. I found myself completely taken away with these characters and got kinda emotional reading the ending. I really enjoyed all the themes brought up in this book THE SPECTACULAR by Zoe Whittall is an amazing novel that I loved!! It’s about Missy, who’s in a band, and her mother, Carola. I loved the strong female voice in the writing and the exploration of the mother and daughter relationship. I also loved the queer and trans representation and the expansive timeline and age range in the characters. I found myself completely taken away with these characters and got kinda emotional reading the ending. I really enjoyed all the themes brought up in this book including feminism, womanhood, motherhood, coming of age and finding yourself. I liked the way this story was told in parts moving forward through time and switching between points of view. I really recommend this one and I love the colourful cover! . Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for my uncorrected proof!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Val

    Three generations of women, searching for their own version of happiness and fulfillment. The story opens with Missy in her 20’s in a punk rock band, her mother Carola in her 40’s tucked away working in an Ashram and Ruth, Carola’s mother-in-law and Missy’s grandmother in her 60’s. Told in multiple POV’s, this book showcases each character, their childhood, their views on marriage and motherhood and the way that their past experiences have shaped their future. This is a story of motherhood and f Three generations of women, searching for their own version of happiness and fulfillment. The story opens with Missy in her 20’s in a punk rock band, her mother Carola in her 40’s tucked away working in an Ashram and Ruth, Carola’s mother-in-law and Missy’s grandmother in her 60’s. Told in multiple POV’s, this book showcases each character, their childhood, their views on marriage and motherhood and the way that their past experiences have shaped their future. This is a story of motherhood and feminism. Each character struggles with being a mom and the responsibility that comes with it. Carola, along with Ruth’s son, Bryce, start a commune called Sunflower after they marry young. All the dreams for shared work and shared lives ended up being more than Carola could handle as she became the only “responsible” one in the commune and was tasked with handling basically everything. Unfortunately for Missy, Carola decided her only solution was to walk away from the commune, and her family. Although she is a somewhat unlikeable character, the author really gives insight into how her decisions were based on her own childhood and relationship with her distant mother and alcoholic father. Missy is fully intent on never being a mother based on her own experience. She embraces the freedom of being on the road and is quite promiscuous. Another result of her abandonment during childhood I thought. Always needing for someone to want her. She questions her sexuality and it was interesting to learn that it was something her mother also wrestled with. Missy struggles with relationships outside of her band and runs from commitment. The middle of the book jumps about 15 years, and I felt that jump was too jarring. She jumps from being a touring punk rock band member to being married and is thinking that now she would like to be a mother. She flip flops back and forth on that throughout the last half of the book. She is known for her hard exterior, but the author shows that as her defense mechanism. Yet another result of being left by her mother so young – it’s easier to act like you don’t care. Last but not least is Ruth. Her backstory was very interesting, growing up in Turkey, getting married and having to escape Turkey with her son and husband (and his mistress!). Her marriage falls apart and her relationship with Bryce was consuming. She doted on him as her only child, and that is part of what led to the demise of Carola and Bryce’s relationship. Ruth steps in when Carola walks away from her family. She was an integral party of Missy’s life as she was growing up and their relationship was strong. She is instrumental in trying to repair the fractured relationship between Carola and Missy. All three women were strong female protagonists. The conversations about expectations of what a woman should be and/or want were insightful. The generational differences were interesting and showed how each woman tried to escape current society norms. Abortion and mothering were large themes that weaved throughout. I really enjoyed this gritty female drama – but I did feel that the story was little more riveting during the first half - the second half had a different and almost contradictory vibe. 3.5 stars rounded up. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House- Ballentine for the advance copy to read and review. Pub date: 9.14.21

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (The Book Club Mom)

    I was invited by Netgalley and the publisher to read an advanced copy of this new release, and I downloaded it immediately. The cover alone made me want to read it, and then I read the description. With one quick skim, I knew that I would enjoy it. The first sentence started with, “Three generations of women…” and that instantly grabbed my attention. I fully believe that The Spectacular will be one of those books with extremely mixed reviews. This is definitely a “love or hate” novel. I adored i I was invited by Netgalley and the publisher to read an advanced copy of this new release, and I downloaded it immediately. The cover alone made me want to read it, and then I read the description. With one quick skim, I knew that I would enjoy it. The first sentence started with, “Three generations of women…” and that instantly grabbed my attention. I fully believe that The Spectacular will be one of those books with extremely mixed reviews. This is definitely a “love or hate” novel. I adored it to pieces, but I’m not surprised as it includes so many components that I appreciate in a novel: - complex mother/daughter relationships - realistic main characters full of flaws and grit - memorable supporting characters - themes of motherhood, family, friendship, sexuality, gender, illness, and toxic relationships - shocking surprises along the way Let me tell you, this book was jam-packed. Between the three women, there was a lot going on, and so much to unpack. I definitely recommend it, but with caution because I know that this book won’t work for everyone. If you and I have aligned with multiple books in the past, then please give it a go, and be sure to report back! 4/5 intriguing stars for The Spectacular!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ann Marie

    Special thanks to Random House Publishing, Ball and one Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I really liked this book! Maybe because I just lost my mother. Told from 3 points of view, Missy, her mother Carola, and her grandmother Ruth.. This book covers a lot of things, mostly just stories of the three women. I felt like it was mostly told by Missy, who became famous due to a song she wrote about her mom. Missy has a lot of men, one in every town, til s Special thanks to Random House Publishing, Ball and one Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I really liked this book! Maybe because I just lost my mother. Told from 3 points of view, Missy, her mother Carola, and her grandmother Ruth.. This book covers a lot of things, mostly just stories of the three women. I felt like it was mostly told by Missy, who became famous due to a song she wrote about her mom. Missy has a lot of men, one in every town, til she falls for tomboy in her band. This book covers abortion, sex scandal, gender, and starts out spectacularly. But then it fast forwards 16 yrs forward and I felt the writing became all aboutmenopause, diapers and all the spectacular parts of this book stopped.it had a glorious beginning though. I loved it because I just lost my mother but I don't see how everyone will love it. From the middle to the end. It felt like another author sat in and wrote the rest of the book. Yes it got more modern, more queerish, but also more like a tick rocking biological clock for me!. Its perfect for a mother or a mother who you do t know what gift to give. Give her this book! 4 stars!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    This is the story about the lives of three women, each in different stages of their lives. As Missy, Carola, and Ruth tell their life stories I found I related to and could see parts of myself in each of them. The book was a fast read and I did not want to put the book down. These women are not perfect and they have plenty of flaws and make plenty of mistakes. In other words, they are human! Their honest thoughts and actions were so refreshing! Women so rarely live the life they want to live, bu This is the story about the lives of three women, each in different stages of their lives. As Missy, Carola, and Ruth tell their life stories I found I related to and could see parts of myself in each of them. The book was a fast read and I did not want to put the book down. These women are not perfect and they have plenty of flaws and make plenty of mistakes. In other words, they are human! Their honest thoughts and actions were so refreshing! Women so rarely live the life they want to live, but instead they live what is expected of them by society. To hear voices that were not afraid to choose the path they wanted was motivating! We can choose this at any time in our life, it doesn't matter what has happened in our past. I would have liked to hear more about Ruth, but I understand this story is primarily about Carola and Missy. While it isn't necessarily a mother-daughter relationship book, their relationship is a big part of the story and I appreciated their maturity and journey together. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    This is a novel about motherhood in all of its forms, and how important it is for women to control whether and when they become mothers. Each character rejects and chooses motherhood in different ways, with different support systems, and with very different approaches. Whittall does a great job of revealing each woman's reasons for abortion, and how they got their abortions, emphasizing the need for safe and legal abortion on demand. This would be a great selection for book clubs and for parent- This is a novel about motherhood in all of its forms, and how important it is for women to control whether and when they become mothers. Each character rejects and chooses motherhood in different ways, with different support systems, and with very different approaches. Whittall does a great job of revealing each woman's reasons for abortion, and how they got their abortions, emphasizing the need for safe and legal abortion on demand. This would be a great selection for book clubs and for parent-child reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition

    Spectacular is the perfect title for this book! The story of a refugee grandmother, a hippie mother and a rock star daughter, each very different from the other. Abandoning, coming together and pushing each other away, living apart, yet each one was always on their minds. I loved each character's story. Very believable narrative and so well written! I felt totally engaged and fascinated the whole time. The last section dragged a bit for me, but not enough to tear myself away and get on with my life, Spectacular is the perfect title for this book! The story of a refugee grandmother, a hippie mother and a rock star daughter, each very different from the other. Abandoning, coming together and pushing each other away, living apart, yet each one was always on their minds. I loved each character's story. Very believable narrative and so well written! I felt totally engaged and fascinated the whole time. The last section dragged a bit for me, but not enough to tear myself away and get on with my life, until I finished reading this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Houle

    When you call your new novel The Spectacular, you’re setting your readers up for expectations. If they like the read, they will certainly call it “spectacular,” after all. And if they don’t like it, they might call it a “spectacular failure.” But what about those readers in the middle who might find the read to be “spectacularly mediocre?” That’s kind of where I sit with this book, a novel that I enjoyed, but found to be narratively uneven. Despite that criticism, there’s something about The Spe When you call your new novel The Spectacular, you’re setting your readers up for expectations. If they like the read, they will certainly call it “spectacular,” after all. And if they don’t like it, they might call it a “spectacular failure.” But what about those readers in the middle who might find the read to be “spectacularly mediocre?” That’s kind of where I sit with this book, a novel that I enjoyed, but found to be narratively uneven. Despite that criticism, there’s something about The Spectacular that will keep you flipping pages, even if some of the characters might turn you off. This is a book that is essentially about outsiders, and what it means to be a family when you’re among outsiders, and that’s what makes the book a compelling one to read — even with its liabilities. The book begins in the late 1990s. We meet twentysomething Missy, who is a cellist in an “indie rock” band (signed to a major label, natch), who, upon introduction, declares that she wants to get her tubes tied so she can have as much indiscriminate sex with her groupies and bandmates as possible (and not get pregnant) as she goes on tour across the United States. However, as drug residue is found in her possession at the Canada-U.S. border as the band tries to re-enter the States after touring Vancouver, Missy is left stranded in Canada where she is forced to go live with her father’s grandmother, Ruth, near Montreal. Meanwhile, the book is also told from the viewpoint of Missy’s mother, Carola, who was once a member of a commune in New England but has gone on to join a yoga cult where its leader was having illegal sex with its group members. After being questioned by the police, we learn that Carola has been estranged from her daughter and, through Ruth, is brought back to her to get reacquainted. Additionally, the middle part of the novel is told from the perspective of Ruth, who is in her 80s and dying from a terminal illness. She wants to return to the home she fled in Turkey so she can bury the remains of her sister. The last part of the book largely recounts Missy’s attempts at reconciliation with her mother in the year 2013, and Missy’s attempts to become a mother herself as she approaches her 40s and couples with a woman who has transitioned into being a man. (So much for Missy wanting to get her tubes tied in the first place if she ultimately wanted to get pregnant!) Read the rest of the review here: https://zachary-houle.medium.com/a-re...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I often struggle to enjoy literary fiction, as the lack of a plot leaves me feeling directionless and the characters can tend to veer into whiny and unsympathetic territory. Even though this book didn’t have much “happening” plot-wise it was still a page-turner for me and I wanted to know where the characters were going. Both Missy and her mom Carola could have felt incredibly annoying, but to me they felt real. I enjoyed the perspectives on gender and how the author handled it in a really multi I often struggle to enjoy literary fiction, as the lack of a plot leaves me feeling directionless and the characters can tend to veer into whiny and unsympathetic territory. Even though this book didn’t have much “happening” plot-wise it was still a page-turner for me and I wanted to know where the characters were going. Both Missy and her mom Carola could have felt incredibly annoying, but to me they felt real. I enjoyed the perspectives on gender and how the author handled it in a really multi-faceted way. I was not surprised on reading the author’s note that she has a writing credit on Schitt’s Creek. The way lesbian and trans characters were included was very reminiscent of Schitt’s Creek - no big deal made, just part of everyday life. I loved this book and would recommend it widely to progressive-minded friends. I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    The writing is so cringe, the Missy chapters feel like bad fanfic that maybe I would have liked at 16..anyways abandoning this

  23. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Richardson

    Closer to 31/2 stars. Good. Not really my type of read but I’m branching out

  24. 5 out of 5

    kp

    This novel started well, and it has interesting things to say about gender, motherhood, and family, but it grew rather tedious and too often tells rather than shows. In the end, I didn't care much about what happened to the characters. This novel started well, and it has interesting things to say about gender, motherhood, and family, but it grew rather tedious and too often tells rather than shows. In the end, I didn't care much about what happened to the characters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Enid Wray

    Loved this. Three smart, independent, flawed women living their lives in defiance of societal expectations… ahead of their times. Marching to their own drummers, listening to their own hearts, taking charge of their own bodies. Women with agency. A multiple PoV book where the different voices are actually distinct! Zoe Whittall creates characters who will make you laugh, and cry, and yell… and whom you will want to bring home to nurture… to heal their pain. She writes what every woman lives… of Loved this. Three smart, independent, flawed women living their lives in defiance of societal expectations… ahead of their times. Marching to their own drummers, listening to their own hearts, taking charge of their own bodies. Women with agency. A multiple PoV book where the different voices are actually distinct! Zoe Whittall creates characters who will make you laugh, and cry, and yell… and whom you will want to bring home to nurture… to heal their pain. She writes what every woman lives… of being defined by others, of being branded for not behaving like a girl/women. She writes of sex - of chemistry and hormones… and disappointment. She writes of longing, for family, and for home… As Grandma, Rose, says… A home will be the thing I am always looking for but never able to pin down (p180). But she also writes of forgiveness… of letting go, even of letting go of love when all it is is self-sacrifice… and of uncertainty. If we needed to be sure we were up to the task before we started, we’d never do or try anything. “We all go from day to day and our future is undefined. But isn’t it always?” (p355). We are all just muddling along as best as we are able to… and that’s OK…. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for granting me access to an early digital review copy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    The Spectacular, by Zoe Whittal, is the story of three women who struggle with the demands placed on women as mothers. The story begins with Missy, a cellist and rock band musician who is desperately seeing a tubal ligation before heading out on her first tour when she is twenty-two. She wants to be sexually free and free of the fear of pregnancy. The second woman is Carola, living at an ashram as it’s collapsing into a public sex scandal. She sees the daughter she left behind when she fled her The Spectacular, by Zoe Whittal, is the story of three women who struggle with the demands placed on women as mothers. The story begins with Missy, a cellist and rock band musician who is desperately seeing a tubal ligation before heading out on her first tour when she is twenty-two. She wants to be sexually free and free of the fear of pregnancy. The second woman is Carola, living at an ashram as it’s collapsing into a public sex scandal. She sees the daughter she left behind when she fled her marriage and commune on the cover of a music magazine. Then there is Ruth, Carola’s mother-in-law and Missy’s grandmother who at the age of 83 discovers what all the fuss is about with sex. She is diagnosed with cancer and wants to fight it on her own terms by returning to Turkey to die. Like Missy, all the women face the question of whether to have a child or have an abortion, even when it was illegal in Canada. The story progresses like a beaded necklace, alternating the narrative between Missy and Nicola, first in the late 90s with a centerpiece, a lavalier of chapters about Ruth, and then another string of alternating chapters about Nicola and Missy in the present. It follows their journey as they find themselves and each other. I enjoyed The Spectacular. I cared about the women, even though at times they seemed determined to ruin their lives. The underlying theme of what it means to be a woman in a world with certain expectation is fertile ground. Missy, Nicola, and Ruth are not your typical women, in fiction or reality, but their dilemmas are all too common. Clearly, these three generations of women struggle to liberate themselves from expectations, each in their own way. These are deeply realized and individual characters. Perhaps that is why I sruggled a bit to keep reading at the beginning. Missy is just so determined to be as free as the men in the band, she is a jerk, reckless with other’s feelings, determined to reject intimacy, and heedless of the consequences. In a way, she acted like a stereotype. The Missy in the present is so much nicer. It might seem easy to judge Nicola at first, a mother leaving behind a six-year-old child, but Whittal deftly makes her decision understandable. The Spectacular is the second book by Whittal I have read. She seems to be drawn to the deeply volatile issues of modern society and writes about them in ways that fill in the black and white political fault lines with all the shades of gray. The Spectacular will be released on September 14th. I received an e-galley through NetGalley. The Spectacular at Ballantine Books | Penguin Random House Review of The Best Kind of People Zoe Whittal author site https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...

  27. 5 out of 5

    M. K. French

    In 1997, Missy is the 21-year-old cellist for an indie rock band. She parties hard every night and plays the song about being abandoned by her mother that helped make the band famous. That mother, Carola, was recovering from a sex scandal at the yoga center where she lives when she sees Missy on the cover of a magazine. Carola's 83-year-old mother-in-law Ruth wants all the stubborn women of her family to reconnect. We meet Missy asking for a tubal ligation, which no doctor is willing to give her In 1997, Missy is the 21-year-old cellist for an indie rock band. She parties hard every night and plays the song about being abandoned by her mother that helped make the band famous. That mother, Carola, was recovering from a sex scandal at the yoga center where she lives when she sees Missy on the cover of a magazine. Carola's 83-year-old mother-in-law Ruth wants all the stubborn women of her family to reconnect. We meet Missy asking for a tubal ligation, which no doctor is willing to give her because she's 21. They cite her youth and the potential to change her mind and want children if she meets the right man, never mind that she's into casual sex and drugs as part of the rock and roll scene. Carola was in one community after another, seeking escape from herself and release from the responsibility that giving herself over to a cult leader can bring. Carola's mother excused a volatile husband, secretly looked into feminist ideas, and hid everything behind a veneer of cleanliness, religion, and traditional feminine values. Missy's paternal grandmother did the same to a point, but took her future into her own hands, and wanted to get the women to speak to each other again before she died. Years later, Missy is married and in an emotional seesaw as she contemplates motherhood, a failing marriage, and her career. She isn't doing drugs or interested in the party scene anymore. Carola's still involved in retreats and doubts her ability to be a mother even though she can give great advice to people. It feels like they're recycling the same problems and issues that they had when younger, and are stuck in the same groove. The emotional seesaw is different as they've aged, however. Time has a way of smoothing things out a bit, and that gives distance from the intensity of youth. The love, relationships, emotional walls, and self-actualization occur when they open themselves up to the risk of getting hurt. Losses, whether from deaths, others committing suicide, or emotional distance, still occur; life is like that more often than not. But leaning on people for help isn't a weakness, and setting boundaries is just as important as the connections that people make. All of it is a choice, and this novel shows how the choices women make can have resounding effects not just for themselves, but for others around them. Embracing those choices and the people in their lives is the point in life, and I feel proud of Missy and Carola for their growth throughout this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bettys Book Club

    Daisy Jones meets The Mothers This is the first book I’ve read from Whittal and it won’t be my last! In The Spectacular, she ambitiously tackles motherhood from 3 multi-generational POVs. Her characters are wrapped in turmoil and doubt, and struggle to find their identity in motherhood. In each one of her character’s story, Whittall examines abortion, infidelity and women’s rights as they pertain to their generation. The book is told from the following POVs: Ruth - she was born in Turkey and immigr Daisy Jones meets The Mothers This is the first book I’ve read from Whittal and it won’t be my last! In The Spectacular, she ambitiously tackles motherhood from 3 multi-generational POVs. Her characters are wrapped in turmoil and doubt, and struggle to find their identity in motherhood. In each one of her character’s story, Whittall examines abortion, infidelity and women’s rights as they pertain to their generation. The book is told from the following POVs: Ruth - she was born in Turkey and immigrated to the U.S. in the 50s with her husband. She discovers her husband cheating on her in Turkey, and the bastard brought his mistress with him on the boat ride over!! She had one son with him, Bryce. Carola - is a character you will love to hate. She left her alcoholic father and religious mother and fled to college in the U.S. from Canada. She met and married Bryce in college and they started a commune in the 70s. They had a daughter Missy and when she was 12, Carola abandoned her family and joined an ashram. Missy - she grew up with her grandma Ruth and her dad. In the early 90s she started a punk rock band and toured the U.S. She is VERY promiscuous on tour and debates her career, sexuality and motherhood choices throughout the novel. This book has everything: 🏳️‍🌈 LGBQT+ romance 🧘‍♀️ Lots of yoga 🥃 Drug and alcohol abuse 💇‍♀️ Bad haircuts 🤦‍♂️ Shitty men 👯‍♀️ Female friendship 🔥 Lots of sex 🤗 Forgiveness 👩‍🌾 Farming 🩺 Women’s health 🦮 Dog walking This is one of the best family dramas I’ve ever read because it’s so layered and complex. Every character does things you will hate and love which leads to a gripping read. My criticism of this book is its format. Ruth is a short section of the book in the middle where Missy and Carola get most of the chapters. I wish it was more balanced so it felt more like a real ensemble. I would option this book in a heartbeat for a series. It could easily run 5 seasons with the amount of drama included. Thank you Harper Collins for this advanced copy!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lara

    he Spectacular by Zoe Whittall is the story of three generations of women who strive for real freedom in sexuality, gender identity and their ambivalence toward motherhood. It’s 1997 and Melissa “Missy” Wood is a cellist in an indie rock band on tour across America. At 22 years old, she gets on stage and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. As the only girl in the band, she is determined to party just as hard, maybe even harder, as everyone else. She loves the idea o he Spectacular by Zoe Whittall is the story of three generations of women who strive for real freedom in sexuality, gender identity and their ambivalence toward motherhood. It’s 1997 and Melissa “Missy” Wood is a cellist in an indie rock band on tour across America. At 22 years old, she gets on stage and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. As the only girl in the band, she is determined to party just as hard, maybe even harder, as everyone else. She loves the idea of leaving a guy in every town. Meanwhile, her mother, Carola Neligan aka Juniper, has resurfaced after a sex scandal at the yoga center when she has been living. She sees Missy, for the first time in years, on the cover of a magazine cover. Missy decides to crash at her grandmother Ruth’s house and Ruth decides enough is enough. Mother and daughter need to find a way to understand one another. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms Whittall’s The Best Kind of People (2016) and looked forward to reading The Spectacular. Advertised as a “sharply observed novel” that “captures three very different women who each struggle to build an authentic life,” The Spectacular sets out to explore what it means to be a woman. Does it include the desire to be a mother? It is assumed that women naturally want to be moms. What happens when a woman feels she doesn’t want kids...ever? Should others dictate to women to keep the motherhood option open? As a woman who has always known I wanted children and have faced the challenges of motherhood head on, I was curious about the premise. Right off the bat, I was put off by Missy’s vulgarity and childishness. It was hard to sympathize with Carola. Ruth’s story was interesting but far too short. It wasn’t the story I was expecting and I am certainly not the audience for this story. I do not recommend The Spectacular. The Spectacular is available in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cath (Cather.reads)

    Thank you to Netgalley for the free copy. The Spectacular is a novel that follows the main character, Missy, through her life as a rock star as a young adult, and then jumps to her life as a much older woman living a life different than she thought she would have when she was younger. There are other perspectives shared through the eyes of her mother and grandmother. The writing is beautiful and whimsical, describing intergenerational trauma and what it is like to grow up in a cult, but it does n Thank you to Netgalley for the free copy. The Spectacular is a novel that follows the main character, Missy, through her life as a rock star as a young adult, and then jumps to her life as a much older woman living a life different than she thought she would have when she was younger. There are other perspectives shared through the eyes of her mother and grandmother. The writing is beautiful and whimsical, describing intergenerational trauma and what it is like to grow up in a cult, but it does not follow a traditional story line. I finished reading this story and was ready to give it four or even five stars, but the more I thought about it, the more I was duped by the magical writing. There is nothing wrong with the book not having a cohesive message. It simply follows the lives of humans, and very few of our lives actually follow a traditional story plot. However, I wish it had addressed the opening and the closing scenes better. Basically, in the beginning of the book, Missy is turned down from a hysterectomy by a doctor who tells her that she will regret it. By the end of the book, it is uncertain whether she is grateful to the doctor for turning her down due to the series of events that unfold in the last half of the book. It does have some good trans rep and questioning rep, although I am reluctant to recommend this book as an LGBTQIA+ book since they were minor elements of the story. Overall, this was a beautifully written book, and I hope that you give it a try if it interests you!

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