Zadie Smith’s new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.
Pages: 401 (Hardcover)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Source: Checked out from the library
Date Completed: February 28, 2013
The very first book club I was a member of was in New Orleans. I was in my final semester of public health graduate school. We met every week to discuss an agreed upon number of pages of a book. The second book we read together was White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I loved the discussion and enjoyed the book. I had not returned to the author's writing until the Boston book club selected NW by Zadie Smith as the March selection. I had heard that this book was not as strong as her others and could be confusing to read.
When I began, I found that I had to do quite a bit of re-reading. I could not get into the rhythm. I was wondering how I was going to finish the book and then I came to the section that was told from the voice of Natalie Blake. I related to and enjoyed her description of growing up in an insular ethnic community and wanted to build other relationships. Even though it was hard to read, I also appreciated the insight of how her perspective and connection to her childhood community change as she had more economic success. Her friendship with Leah was also interesting to me, especially as both women had very different perceptions about each other's lives. Based on where I am in my own life, I also enjoyed the discussion on parenthood and the decision to have (or not have) babies.