Cover Image: Wayward


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Member Reviews

What an interesting book!  It takes a look at a modern view of aging. It also brings up harder topics such as loss and grief around that.  It’s so compelling, and and makes you want to read more!   I thought it was very well written and I loved the way It ended. This one will keep me thinking for a while!
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My thoughts on the novel Wayward are a little jumbled. 
Dana Spiotta is such a smart author. 
This book cuts right to the heart of what it is to be a 50-ish woman in today’s world. Somewhat invisible, unneeded by either your child or your parent, filled with rage, confusion, sleeplessness, searching - there were moments that I felt so “seen” that I wondered if Spiotta is actually inside my head. 
But then there’s all this other stuff - internet jargon, architectural detail, politics and economics, eugenics and utopias - again all smart, but it interfered with the flow for me.
I sort of enjoyed this novel but it left me feeling like I wanted more. 
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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A persuasive and immersive novel about women’s history, the menopause, gentrification and generational shift. Spiotta is smart and entertaining but her novel fails to reach the great heights.
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I feel like maybe I wasn’t the right audience for this book. The novel tracks the mid-life crisis of Sam as she deals with an ailing mother and a daughter who won’t speak to her after she decides to end her marriage and leave the house. The book is mostly told from Sam’s perspective, but also occasionally shifts to her 16-year-old daughter Ally. And then also the city of Syracuse and a fictional suffragette… But I digress.

I am somewhere between Sam and Ally age wise, but a lot of the narrative is universal - the troublesome years of puberty/menopause between mothers and daughters, coming to terms with a parent’s mortality, etc. I also felt the way Spiotta articulated the feminine rage post 2016 election was spot on. 

I appreciated a lot of elements in this book and I think if I was a little closer to middle age I would have found a lot more of the story speaking to me. As is, I am intrigued to read more by Spiotta.
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The 2016 brought chaos for many people, but especially for Samantha. She felt a feeling of urgency after the election, stuck as a wife, daughter, mother and at 52 needed to make a change.
She finds an old, decrepit house in Syracuse and decides to upend her entire life and everyone else along with it.
At times this feels as if it’s a love letter to Syracuse itself. With real recent history woven into one women’s fictional life coming apart at the seams.
Thank you #NetGalley and #Knopf for an arc. This one is available today
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When this book opens Samantha falls in love with an old Arts & Crafts house. She makes the decision to buy the house almost immediately. But that decision is life-altering for her because she is married with a child. She knows at this point her marriage is over and she must get out of her current house. As you can imagine, there is much surprise by her family, and causes a major rift with her 17 year old daughter Ally.

Samantha, is likely going through a mid-life crisis at this point. What Spiotta writes is a thoughtful story told from Sam and Ally. No one is perfect in this story, just people trying to make it through turbulent times.

The author put a lot of thought and reflection into this short novel. The writing was simple but flowed beautifully. I had many, what would you do in this situation, moments while reading this book. In the end, I absolutely loved this book. It is very quiet, but I think it will stay on many people’s minds for quite a long time.

Thank you NetGalley and Knopf for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Sam Raymond buys a dilapidated house and leaves her nice-but-too-normal husband before you’re more than a handful of pages into this empathetic look at life as an aging, well off, relatively liberal  white woman in the 21st century. Sam’s not always the most likable character, but I get the sense that she wouldn’t care—or at least, would want not to care, would want you to think she didn’t care—about her likability. She’s a Facebook Mom who thinks she’s too unique to be a Facebook Mom, and her attempts at social justice, spurred by her lugubrious rage at the outcome of the 2016 election, are far more personal than political.

Sam’s relationships with her daughter and her own mother are woven in throughout, with some chapters told from her teenager’s perspective, and she agonizes over whether she’s been a good mom. I’m about a decade older than Ally, but I recognize the triumphs and failings of my own mother-daughter relationship in theirs and the way it’s written rings true. 

The ending felt a little abrupt—there are some major plot lines where you get the action but never the fallout—but I suppose that’s another way the novel mirrors real life: the injustices of the world are never wrapped up in a neat little bow. This is a solid pick for anyone who wonders what makes someone rearrange their life on a whim, and how they handle the aftermath. 

Content warnings: police violence, adult relationship with a minor
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4.5 stars, rounded slightly down. Begins as a somewhat conventional domestic novel, in which Sam Raymond, aged 53, experiences menopause and slowly crumples under the emotional demands of midlife, mishandling her relationships with her sexually-active teenage daughter and her ailing mother. 

Sam takes some startling and unpredictable risks, as she springs herself from what she sees as a trap: she leaves the upscale white suburbs behind, and abandons her decent but boring lawyer husband, after becoming besotted with an old house with great bones (a cheap impulse buy) in an inner-city neighborhood of Syracuse. 

Spiotta channels Sam's midlife feminine rage with great clarity and mordant wit, as she befriends and unbefriends a cast of kindred spirits on secret Facebook groups with names like Hardcore Hags, Harridans, and Harpies, as well as in real life at protests and open-mic nights at a strip-mall comedy club. In a separate narrative strand, we also see Sam as her daughter Ally sees her: as a controlling, obsessive helicopter parent.

Spiotta moves the narrative backward and forward along a narrow loop of time that includes the fallout of the 2016 election, police violence, and Black Lives Matter. But this isn't an earnest or ironic state-of-the-nation novel, because Spiotta makes Sam's inner monologue seem like a natural response to the acute crisis of Trumpism and the chronic morbidity of American patriarchy, effortlessly unspooling the chains of thoughts and decisions that brought her to the brink of self-knowledge. All of the major characters are rendered with such insight and compassion, and they're self-aware enough to acknowledge their own white bourgeois privilege, but not their own humorlessness.

Intriguingly and ambitiously, in the novel's final third, Spiotta dives much more deeply into Syracuse's post-industrial decline, the life of a fictional suffragette, and the Oneida community, a 19th-century commune/sex cult, demonstrating larger historical patterns of well-intentioned failure.

This was a wonderfully immersive and propulsive read, and I would recommend it as one of the finest novels I've read this summer.

Many thanks to Knopf and Netgalley for giving me an ARC of Wayward in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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Wayward by Dana Spiotta, the book primarily follows Samantha Raymond, a 52 year old suburban woman and her teenage daughter, Ally. The story begins with Sam who is devastated by the 2016 election. As the nation is falling apart Sam questions her place in the world as a middle aged woman, her marriage, her relationship with her daughter and worries about the health of her aging mother. Sam leaves her life in the suburbs and moves into her beloved, but decrepit, house in the city. Ally, a 17 year old overachiever, is beyond angry with her mother. Also. trying to find her place in the world, Ally ignores her mothers incessant text messages. Through its honest narrative, Wayward tells the story of complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, and demonstrates what it means to be a girl, a woman, in modern times.

I struggled with my rating for this book. On one hand I found it to be really relatable, probably the most relatable piece of writing I have read, maybe ever. On the other hand I found the structure of the story to be confused and slightly repetitive. I think the author captured the essence of what it means to be a woman and more so, what it means to be a woman who is getting older. How does the world view an "older" woman? Do we simply disappear with age? Does no one care about what we have to say? Have they ever cared? I found the portrayal of anxiety and the complicated dynamic between mothers and daughters to be spot on. While Ally refuses to speak to her mother, Sam will never give up on her daughter! She yearns for Ally; Ally gives Sam purpose and meaning. A kind of meaning that cannot be replicated by anything else. And yet Sam feels tethered to her own mother, has unconditional love for her mother but the love is different. Her love for her mother is necessary but in a selfish way; her love for Ally is protective and visceral, it comes from deep within. 

While I enjoyed all of the above commentaries, I found the story to be confused. Perhaps this was the intention, but the book gave the impression of being a collection of short stories rather than one cohesive story. We are guided by the voices of Sam and Ally for the majority of the book, however the story telling felt broken. I felt like I wanted more out of this in a traditional sense. I wanted juice from the plot but it fell flat for me at it's core. I gave this 3 stars but I think it also falls within 3.5-4 stars. Regardless, this is a good book as I am questioning a lot of its content, which in itself means the book has done its job.
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I confess that I could not make it past the halfway mark.  Many other readers probably won't agree, but I could not make myself care about any of the characters and the plot just didn't hold my interest.
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I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved the early chapters in the voice of Sam, the mother - the author’s depiction of the furies and frustrations of middle age womanhood were so spot on, I found myself highlighting large parts of every page.  
The chapters narrated by Sam’s daughter were less interesting, mostly because they were the predictable confirmation by a teen that her mother was, indeed, pathetic. 
Where this book became difficult was midway through, as Sam’s actions became increasingly ridiculous, but in utterly fruitless ways. She was obsessed to the point of mania about her daughter, pursued work no one cared about or valued, blew up her marriage, and bought a decrepit house in a struggling neighborhood but seemed to have no idea how to inhabit it. 
I guess I was frustrated because Sam was lost at the beginning of the book...and still lost at the end. She tried some things, some bizarre characters and situations were trotted through her life, but they didn’t change her in any way; she just sort of bounced through them and continued exactly as she was.  As someone who identified a bit too much with some of the furies and frustrations of the early chapters, I would have loved to see some hope and growth in the end.  
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
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Wonderful, a modern look at aging and facing mortality. It's also about facing vulnerability and loss -- the loss of innocence of an only child who's becoming a woman, the anticipated loss of a sickly elderly mother, and the loss of one's own youth, to middle age. This was such a poignant, messy, and complicated novel. It managed to explore what it means to be a woman in the Trump era, as the main character tries to come to terms with her own privilege and guilt even as she's trying to escape it for a more authentic, more independent way of being, The portrayal of the absolutism that youth culture can tend toward, was refreshingly piercing. The ending was beautiful. I truly loved it and will recommend it to anybody interested in contemporary literary fiction.
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This is an interesting and surprising book.  It focused on Sam who, in the wake of the 2016 election, sees her life falling apart, questioning her relationship with her husband, feeling her daughter slipping away, and her mother's health declining.  She takes radical action, buying a run down house in Syracuse and moving there from the suburbs and seeking to start a whole new life -- but finding it is not so easy.  

I really enjoyed the author's previous books, and this one was equally captivating.  It is one of the most interesting takes on life over the last several years and how it has impacted people's lived experiences on the macro and micro levels.  Recommended!
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Of course this book grabbed me right away since I am a frequent visitor to Syracuse. The author richly describes the city of Syracuse and its’ environs in this vividly descriptive novel. 

. Spiotta uses a house that is a wreck to symbolize the life of Sam, a wife, mother and daughter who need to renovate her life as much as she needs to renovate this house. It is a time of turmoil in her life and in our country. Of course, it is the election of Trump that serves as a catalyst for her dissatisfaction. 

Blood, in many forms, is used to drive the narrative. As women, it is often a driving life force. 

I enjoyed the book and found its incredible originality refreshing. Nothing was predictable and the insertion of multiple sources enriched the book. The writing is sophisticated and engaging. 

Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.
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