The relationship between Peyton and Isabelle is intense, moves with lightning speed, and will keep readers turning the pages as Yearwood’s story spans the course of these lovers’ lives. Just as it seems they’re on their way to securing their American dream, a tragedy threatens to tear them apart. Yearwood’s unsparing portrayal of the pair—their lives shaped by misogyny, disastrous choices, and Peyton’s brutal tendencies—challenges readers to empathize and understand. Yearwood uses that backdrop, and the contrast between Peyton's childhood and adulthood, as a framework around which she weaves arresting themes of love, justice, inequity, and happiness.
Yearwood’s particular focus is on the repercussions of chasing that American dream—although the older Peyton reaches a level of material success that would shock his younger self, he struggles to achieve true happiness, a theme Yearwood explores in striking prose: “Peyton’s belief in God was one long string of empty lights. When he was young, the bulbs had emanated a strong glow, illuminating his path forward…Until one day, without him even noticing, it went dark.” This poignant novel’s crux is the possibility that living for financial success can cost what matters most.
Takeaway: Young lovers on the verge of achieving the American dream are torn apart by their own choices.
Great for fans of: Philipp Meyer’s American Rust, Ann Pancake’s Strange as this Weather Has Been.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A