My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Expected publication August 21st!
Where do I even start? I fear it will be difficult for me to even put this book into words. Ohio is a story about a community in rural/suburban Ohio, the friends and acquaintances within the community, the secrets held within, and the ghosts that continue to haunt them. One night, several people will return to New Canaan, Ohio and their lives will intertwine in an unexpected way, dredging up memories of the past, and impacting the course of the future.
Stephen Markley makes his debut in a big way, establishing himself as a powerhouse writer. His vocabulary is vast, and the way he builds sentences, paragraphs, and entire story lines is magnificent. His descriptions of the American Midwest, and communities that have suffered from the collapse of American business and industry are spot on. I am from Michigan, and although the book took place in Ohio, the similarities were uncanny. I could see this story taking place where I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit after 9/11, during the recession, when the auto industry was suffering. Although the writing is beautiful, this is definitely not a quick read. His writing evokes a lot of thought, and as such, it is takes some time to process.
Adjectives I would use to describe this book: heartbreaking, raw, realistic, powerful, heavy, gritty, and alive. The story is packed with difficult social topics including rape, sexuality, drugs, religion, and an array of political issues. The story takes place after the Twin Towers fall, and the impact of the terrorist attack are evident, from young boys in the community enlisting to fight the War on Terror to those who wholeheartedly oppose the efforts in the Middle East.
Almost 500 pages and told in 4 parts, with each part from the perspective of a different person, the first half of the book created a backdrop and gave background that was necessary to the later parts. I will say that it was a bit long, and there were times in part 3 where I found myself wanting the story to move a little faster. But, once I got to the end, I could not put it down. The way all of the characters weave throughout each other’s lives, and the journey that they all took to get to present day is incredible. It felt a tiny bit like 13 Reasons Why in that the characters reflect on the choices they each made, and the impact of their choices on the lives of others.
This book will definitely not be everybody’s cup of tea. If you’re looking for something lighthearted or fast paced, this book is not for you. But if you’re looking for something thought provoking and different from the everyday novel, with a dark and heavy edge, you will love this book.
-I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Stephen Markley, and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to review.-