This is truly an extraordinary book; nothing in my previous reading experience, copious and varied as it has been during over six decades of being an unregenerate bookworm, comes close to Amanda Coplin's epic work. I call it epic, because in many ways, it seemed at times to read like a major narrative poem, although certainly not set in verse format.
Having said this much, I find myself truly at a loss as to how to continue. One of the things which I found most difficult was to genuinely relate to the characters and situations, which are extremely far from my own experience. Nevertheless, I found myself completely wrapped up in the concerns of their lives, and caring very deeply about how things worked out.
Another thing that fascinated me was the extremely unusual format - for instance, the complete lack of quotation marks, and the juxtaposition of brief partial page and much longer sections. The small vignettes were brilliantly crafted, and moved the narrative along in an amazing way. Despite the book's length and the fact that the dramatic episodes were interspersed with long quiet stretches of everyday life, I can honestly say that while I sometimes tend to lose interest in novels that are not cliff-hangers in every chapter, it did not happen here.
For the romance novel addict demanding explicit sex scenes, the person who wants vivid descriptions of cruelty and gore, or one who demands an improbable ending where the good guys "win" and the bad guys get a gruesome comeuppance, this book is not recommended. However, if you are looking for a sensitive and vividly presented insight into a time and place that seems to be fully realized, and people who are real even though you may never have met anyone like them, this is a truly fascinating excursion into an intriguing world.