Cover Image: The War for Gloria

The War for Gloria

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Member Reviews

This one was just not for me.  I found the writing tedious and really did not care enough for any of the characters to keep going - landing it on my did not finish pile.
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I wanted to like the "The War for Gloria" more than I did. I found myself unable to identify much with the major characters, the writing was good if a bit over done in places. I think perhaps this just didn't fit my mood. The right book at the right time and so on. Check it our for yourself to see what you thought.

** I received an electronic ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review of this book.
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Very hard read.  Very sad and disturbing.  Not the kind of book I like to read - but one that's good to read to be reminded of the types of lives others live.

I finished this book with a little sadness and a different look at the difficulties others live through and how life can change in moments.
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Homeless, a cruel barbaric father and a mother who loves with all her heart and diagnosed with ALS, a cruel enemy in itself. This is the heartwrenching situation 15 year old, Corey, finds himself in. This story brought unbelievable, dark depressing moments while watching a good person as Corey trying to find the good of the world. I could not put this coming of age story down as I tried to process and find the hope this child needed. 

The setting is a small town in Massachusett nestled in the midst of Boston & Cambridge. With a label attached as a slacker in school, what they could not see is the work he did beyond the school taking on jobs to care for his mother. He searched for existence with good mentors, but they would leave him farther down from the influence he needed. For example, a construction site job lured him to alcohol and drug dealing. Picking himself up from that he found a fight club and trainer, Eddie, but when he had to take a short leave to care for his mom, the trainer ditched him. When he connected with Adrian, a brilliant MIT student, whose mother has brain cancer, he decided to reconnect with his own education. This is where it left me devastated when Adrian bonds with Corey's abusive & cruel dad and things begin to go down hill with unbelievable acts he escapes from, but not before the police are hunting him down. 

My thoughts: Where were the social workers and school officials when all these red flags were hanging from every angle of Corey's life? Not normally a book I would have chosen, but our family is very familiar with the destructive and degenerative disease ALS.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I only finished this book because I felt I needed to read it in its entirety to write a review. It seemed like an editor’s red pen could have been used more. Lots of violence, too much for me, is one of the reasons it isn’t a book I can recommend to readers who follow me. The strength of the book is in the complex characters.  I empathized with Corey. He, as a boy and young man trying to navigate life without much adult supervision, was continually challenged to make choices that would guide his life.
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To begin, this is an exceptionally violent story and really not my “thing”. It is also vastly overwritten in places, like the scenes of cage fighting and training. The main character, Corey, is a conflicted pseudo-adult whose life consists of a mother dying of ALS and a psychotic, mostly absent father. He is a sympathetic character struggling to deal with a difficult start to life. Adequate motivation for many of the action scenes is missing. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Alfred A. Knopf Books for the ARC to read and revie
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I felt like I personally encountered the characters in The War for Gloria by Atticus Lish. I perceived their emotions as if we had been interacting directly. That type of complex character intimacy is difficult for any author, but this one pulled it off flawlessly. The story is an uncomfortable one. There are psychological elements that replayed in my mind and kept me up at night. Incidents that occur in the book are incredibly realistic.

I wonder how many readers will identify a few of the underlying themes besides the obvious more transparent ones: holes in the safety net, social isolation, and reaction formation. There are many lessons in between the lines of text. For example, survival is often contingent on spoken (or unspoken) words, and the words we chose possess a great deal of power.

This book has adult content (psychological and physical) and violence. It will trigger emotional discomfort in people as I believe it was meant to do. Be prepared to handle that before you read it.
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Although I liked the overall story, I didn’t love it. There was something cold and distant about the writing, it didn’t “grab me” / make me excited about picking up the story; unfortunately I can’t describe myself better than that for more insight. The sections describing going to and from the hospital weighed it down further. I did sympathize with Corey and the choices he makes/ forced to make, which is the reason for the rating.
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The War for Gloria is depressing. Sometimes you need depressing. Just to feel more alive. This is not a time in my life when I need a depressing book to feel more alive.
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Although the title is The War for Gloria, the main characters are Corey and his biological father, Leonard.  Gloria exists mostly in the background as the two fight for dominance.

This may be the most intense book I’ve ever read.  Corey is 15 at the beginning of the book, living with his mother, Gloria, who dropped out of college and has been pretty aimless since then.  She has had an on again off again relationship with Corey's father, Leonard, mostly off, over the years and there are signs of disturbing events.  

Gloria is not prepared for the diagnosis of ALS she receives after a visit to the doctors.  Leonard starts hanging around, not helping anyone, but taking advantage of the free rent.  Corey is quite despondent and wanders around the greater Boston area.  On one of his trips he meets a strange boy named Adrian, a physics nerd.  Although they are very different, they strike up a strange friendship.  While brilliant, Adrian is completely self centered and mentally unstable.  Like Corey, his divorced mother is ill; she has cancer, but Adrian hates her with an unimaginable cruelty. Corey on the other hand barely gets through his classes.  

It’s not unsurprising that his lack of attention to school creates no alarm bells in the school, but I wondered how different Corey's life would have been if there had been follow up by school social workers. 

As Gloria’s condition worsens, Corey drops out of school and finds work in construction to support him and his mom. He finds work wherever he can, construction, in grocery stores.   Corey loves his mother and consistently does everything to help her, except being home to comfort to her, even when Leonard is not there.  On one of his trips to Boston, Corey finds himself at a martial arts training place.  The almost Biblical violence between Leonard and Corey leads him to train with unbelievable intensity and soon he begins to compete in  a setting reminiscent of gladiators.  The war for Gloria between Leonard and Corey reaches a pitch that is somehow not resolved.
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The writing style felt like intermittent thoughts that didn’t flow together. It was hard to get into a rhythm of reading. This title wasn’t for me.
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Unfortunately, this book was not for me.  I found it too difficult to get into the characters and the writing described everything, leaving nothing to my own imagination.  I am familiar with ALS and wanted very much to like this book but that was not the case.  I read about 100 pages and had to give up.
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What a writer. From the first paragraph you will be by Corey's side as he navigates his minefield of a life. He's fifteen and lives with his mother Gloria in Quincy, Mass. They've been homeless or sleeping on friends' sofas for years, and now they have their own apartment, Gloria has a regular job, and Corey's doing well in school. His strange  father, Leonard, makes an occasional appearance. 

Corey looks for mentors among the hardworking construction workers in the neighborhood. He's excited to make a little money heping on sites. He also makes a strange friend, a kid named Adrian who is headed to MIT and thinks almost entirely about math, physics, and physical strength. When Gloria is diagnosed with ALS, he discovers that Adrian's mom has brain cancer. The two boys' reaction to their mothers' situations could not be more different. 

Every character is so fully created that they could have a novel of their own. Corey's father Leonard, the MIT security guard who carries around giant physics textbooks and believes himself to be the only rational thinker on the planet. He is one of the most disconcerting characters I've encountered in a long time. And there's Gloria, with her devastating diagnosis and her fight to keep supporting Corey as long as she can. 

Atticus Lish builds suspense, keeping you glued to the page. What will happen to Corey after Gloria dies? How will he get his frightening father out of his life? What way will Corey choose? In a way this novel reminds me of "Shuggie Bain" because of the way you are connected to the characters no matter what they are going through. Fantastic book.
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