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What We've Lost Is Nothing: A Novel Hardcover – January 21, 2014
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Home to Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway, the city of Oak Park, Illinois, is a historic enclave that prides itself on its dedication to diversity. Nestled in the shadow of the City of Big Shoulders to its east, the border between city and suburb often gets a little murky, so when an entire street of homes is robbed during a single afternoon, suppressed racial tensions bubble to the surface as the suspects remain at large. Every one of the eight families affected will have their beliefs, their commitment to their community, and even their most precious relationships challenged during the course of the initial 24 hours following the burglaries, but none more so than the McPhersons, whose 15-year-old daughter was home during the invasion. Veteran journalist Snyder crafts a muscular and fearless debut novel that boldly tackles the heady themes of prejudice, self-preservation, poverty, and privilege. Deftly underscored by a steady drumbeat of denial and discontent, Snyder’s drama provocatively reveals the escalating tensions of a community about to implode. --Carol Haggas
“Veteran journalist Snyder crafts a muscular and fearless debut novel that boldly tackles the heady themes of prejudice, self-preservation, poverty and privilege. Deftly underscored by a steady drumbeat of denial and discontent, Snyder’s drama provocatively reveals the escalating tensions of a community about to implode.” (Booklist)
"Snyder's debut is smooth and engaging, and reads like the work of a veteran novelist." (Publishers Weekly)
"In What We’ve Lost Is Nothing, Rachel Louise Snyder tackles a difficult subject, the effects of crime on a community. By exploring the lives of victimized neighbors, she shows how well-meaning people can fall prey to their fears and prejudices. It’s a story about an at-risk community skirting the west side of Chicago, but the themes are universal. It’s a compelling and important novel about family and neighborhood, about individuals when ideals and values are thrown into harsh contrast. A marvelous book." (Mark LaFramboise Bookseller, Politics and Prose)
"Rachel Louise Snyder’s debut novel marks the arrival of an important new voice in fiction. With sharp prose and compelling insight, What We’ve Lost is Nothing brings readers to a neighborhood in a moment of public crisis that unmasks a range of private crises. Snyder renders a beautiful portrait of both the complex world of Ilios Lane and the gulf between the way that we imagine our worst fears, and the way that they come to pass and demand that we survive them." (Danielle Evans author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self)
"Rachel Louise Snyder writes with the rigorous scrutiny of an investigative journalist and the deep and roving empathy of a natural-born novelist; the result is a bold and mesmerizing exploration of daily truths we don't talk about nearly enough: class prejudice and racism; the chasm between newly arrived immigrants and those of us who've been here for generations; the painful division between husbands and wives and the children they've made; and that razored air between what we believe and what is. What We've Lost is Nothing is a stellar debut by an important and necessary new voice among us." (Andre Dubus III author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie)
"A powerful, page-turning debut that dares to delve below the surface of our glossy American lives. You may never look at your neighbors—or yourself—the same way again." (David Goodwillie author of American Subversive)
“Snyder offers us an unflinching and complicated portrait of a community that is afraid to look back at itself, and she does so with grace, wit and tenderness of heart. This book is stunning and so incredibly relevant.” (Alison Espach author of The Adults)
"Riveting . . . Snyder’s portrayal of the disintegration of this one quiet block is masterful, forcing the reader to examine the possibility of his own stereotypical behavior if faced with a similar situation." (Bookpage)
"Ideas abound in this thoughtful story, a demonstration of the author’s years of experience as a community organizer. What We’ve Lost Is Nothing has the stamp of authenticity." (Washington Post)
"Keenly observed." (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
"Snyder's character development is astounding, as are the complexities of her writing. She manages to tackle some big issues including racism, city vs. suburb, violence, and the enigma of the human psyche -- all while telling a spectacular story." (Bookslut)
"[Gives] compelling expression to relevant and pressing issues of our time." (San Francisco Chronicle)
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Examples: A young child loses one or both of her parents. A spouse loses his partner while raising young children. Being raped and raping someone.
Rachel Louise Snyder's book talks about everything leading up to that moment, which is the pentacle of the action in the plot and thus the end of the book. SPOILER ALERT: One of the teenaged characters is raped. Her life will never be the same, which is the same for rapist, her parents, and her neighbors. It almost sounds like I'm being overdramatic, but with the events that lead up to that moment, it truly does effect that many people.
So after reading this book — which for the record, Rachel is a friend — I'm left thinking about those moments in time where my life was forever changed and why I enjoyed reading it.