Book Review – Weather by Jenny Offill

Weather is my first exposure to Jenny Offill’s work. This book was a very unique reading experience. The style of the book lives somewhere at the intersection of slice-of-life and stream-of-consciousness. Rather than build its narrative on extended scenes, it relies on short passages, sometimes only a few sentences, that come at a breakneck pace. It’s an interesting way to get a feel for a character and what motivates them.

For the first quarter of the book, I was having trouble keeping up. But once you get a feel for the rhythm, I found it to be an extremely effective way to build how people actually operate. If you’re struggling at first, I’d say keep at it, I found that it really paid off by the end.

It’s also a masterful display of how anxiety about work, parenthood, societal issue, geo-political climate, etc…actually effect people. It’s rare that something exists as an all-or-nothing influence on your mood or mental well-being. You could be wondering what you’ll eat for lunch one minute and find yourself confronting the hopelessness you feel in the face of climate change the next. This book captures that kind of mental tug of war expertly. I found a quote from the book summed it up nicely:

“It is important to remember that emotional pain comes in waves. Remind yourself that there will be a pause between the waves.”

It’s a short, fast-paced, but emotionally effective read. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to checking out more of Jenny Offill’s work.

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