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Entanglement - Quantum and Otherwise

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

With deeply flawed and relatable characters, Entanglement – Quantum and Otherwise is intricate literary fiction unraveling a generational family saga (from mother’s youth to daughter’s death) which examines the lasting impact our loved ones have in shaping our reality or lack thereof.
Danenbarger’s ambitiously titled work of literary fiction revolves around an intricate web of characters whose connections and dissociations slowly become evident as the novel progresses. The story starts with Geena, a woman sitting in her Kansas City office, conflicted about whether she should open the letter in front of her or not. In the end, she does; and what pours out is an entire history, a family saga that begins with a mother’s youth, goes on to detail lives, loves, and inevitable ruptures, before culminating in a crescendo of death.

Right off the bat, it becomes evident that the narrative is rich and complex: Expect frequent jumps in timeline, a flood of new and seemingly strange characters in each chapter, and a deliberate withholding of key plot points, meant to create suspense and enhance the effect of the eventual revelations. The title, of course, refers to the concept in physics of two particles being directly connected even across vast distances, a phenomenon that could well be an analogy for almost all the characters’ relationships to each other. No matter the distance separating them, they keep recurring in, and influencing, each of their lives.

Readers who favor page-turners over literary puzzles will likely find the book a challenge: having each chapter narrated by a different character, in a different voice, with sudden shifts from third-person to first person perspective, is a bold choice and not everyone’s cup of tea. The language alternates between complex—even complicated—and the directly stated (“Vanity is a woman’s punishment for being born”) and piercingly heartfelt. For all the book’s headiness, Danenbarger offers dramatic events and developments, and an empathetic understanding of how we process traumatic events. On occasion he even dares sentimentality. The novel is insightful and has a sensitivity that shines through. Lovers of family sagas, and the relationships that undergird them, will enjoy this book, which is demanding but ultimately very human.

Takeaway: A heady, human family saga for lovers of literary fiction.

Great for fans of: Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A

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