Weather – Jenny Offill
Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She’s become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right-wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience–but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she’s learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks . . . And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in–funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.
(Synopsis from Goodreads)
I finished reading Weather by Jenny Offill about a week ago, but I have needed some time to reflect upon this book before I write a review. I imagine that I am not alone in this; there is a lot going on within this short novel.
Weather is the most unique book that I have ever read. As someone who reads a lot of books, this means something. As I write this, I realise that there are often negative undertones associated with the word unique. Unique hair cut. Unique sense of style. Unique personality. These phrases tend to hold a negative connotation, depending on the context. However, I want to be quite clear; my use of the word unique to describe this book is by no means negative. Exceptional. Unparalleled. Standout. One-of-a-kind. These are all words that I would also use to describe this wondrous novel.
When you pick up this book and read the first few pages, you will perhaps think that it is a bit odd. That is exactly what I thought when I started this book, and to be honest my initial assessment did not change that much. Weather is a bit of a weird book, but really, what is wrong with that? In a world where so many people strive to be, look, and act the same, something that is different is refreshing. It is strange in a charming sort of way that makes you want to keep on reading.
While this book is relatively short and could be a quick read, I urge you to take your time with it. By reading it too quickly, one could easily gloss over the crucial messages contained within the narrative. If you are interested in climate change in particular, then please pick up a copy of this book. Weather by Jenny Offill is one of those books that one can read again and again, and still manage to find something new. I am in awe.
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!