Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)
Anna Beck, a woman walking the fine edge between despair and hope, is constantly at war with her own body. She has a problem: she can’t leave her small, subsidized apartment for fear of contracting some horrible germ-borne disease, but she has to make a road trip to stop the wedding of her would-be lover, her former therapist. Their relationship, borne of a chance meeting in the local laundromat, the Fluffitorium, has led Anna to explore her painful past and to hope for a future she never dreamed she’d have.
Making a road trip is a special challenge for someone with an obsessive fear of contamination, but Anna finds a way. And along that way, she meets Mellow, a teenaged hitchhiker who shoplifts Oreos, and sets off casino alarms so she can use the bathroom in private. Ultimately, the journey provides healing for both of them, but not without a Cadillac-sized helping of soul-searching and bad diner food.
Ultimately, Anna and Mellow arrive at the destination wedding, and she intends to stop it, but something else happens. She realizes that she no longer needs the approval or affection of her former therapist; she has grown and faced her own trauma and is ready to move forward with her life.
Anna Incognito deals with mental illness, loss, and renewed hope and acceptance of flaws through the insightful, biting wit of a main character at odds with herself, her past, and the world; still, she sees the humor and absurdity in it all. “Lots of narrative pull...wonderfully complicated,” says Jincy Willett, author of The Writing Class, whose work David Sedaris anthologized in Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10
Plot/Idea: Anna Incognito captivates from the start as it follows Anna Beck’s evocative journey to recall past trauma in order to free herself from its grip. The conflict intensifies quickly and becomes multilayered—but Preble manages to introduce twists and turns delicately, with a natural flow, while building up to an immensely gratifying ending.
Prose: Preble’s writing rolls flawlessly off the pages, brimming with hidden meaning and brilliant foreboding. Natural interjections of humor lighten the novel’s heavy load, grounding readers in the midst of a terrifying rollercoaster of self-discovery and rebirth.
Originality: The novelty of this story lies in Preble’s skillful juxtaposition of past and present. Anna’s flashbacks are organic and flow throughout the plot while seamlessly melding with her present awakenings.
Character Development/Execution: Readers will immediately be engulfed by Anna’s larger-than-life struggles and tortured psyche, but in the course of the story she becomes relatable and endearing—an elusive transformation that will leave readers wondering when exactly it happened. Preble has an innate ability to create characters who are both intricate and remarkable, with just the right amount of shock to enliven the narrative.
Date Submitted: August 03, 2022