1924, GENOA, ITALY: Emiliano Fournier has nothing to lose—his life has been determined for him since the day of his birth. When he grows older, he will run his family's bakery till he hands it down to his children. He has always known this. But when his life begins to turn in a different direction, everything begins to change—for the better, or perhaps, for the worst.
1940, PARIS, FRANCE: Years Later, Aurelie Fournier is living in Paris with her father and brother, running their own bakery. But just like her father, she longs for something more. As she begins to delve into self-destruction, life begins to take its toll on her. Will she be able to withstand its hold on her, or will she crumble beneath its weight?
TWO LIVES. Two generations. Everything to win—or to lose
Plot/Idea: The Ones We Become benefits from an appealing premise—duty versus devotion—but that theme often becomes blurred by the unclear plotline. Macaluso's midway shift to an epistolary format is jarring and interrupts the novel's flow.
Prose: Macaluso's prose, though accessible and engaging, lags behind the fast pace, resulting in a need for more build up and character development. The novel is dialogue heavy, which at times detracts from critical moments.
Originality: The Ones We Become presents powerful ideas but allows too many historical fiction tropes without a fresh spin to make them unique. Macaluso attempts compelling characters to offset the story's conventionality, but they, too, verge on the stereotypical.
Character Development/Execution: Macaluso builds the framework for a sophisticated cast and offers realistic conflict throughout their journey, but both major and minor characters end up with inconsistent arcs that reduce their eventual transformations.
Date Submitted: June 10, 2022