How do our decisions reverberate across space and time? What happens when we choose one course of action over another? Do our decisions even matter? Joan Silber explores these questions and more in her award winning book, Improvement, and her conclusions will comfort and surprise you!
Reyna, a young single mother, lives with her son in New York. Boyd, her boyfriend is serving time in Rikers Island and when Reyna goes to visit him she often asks her Aunt Kiki to watch her son. Reyna and Boyd have gotten very close over the course of his imprisonment and although Boyd is not perfect, Reyna has hope that he might really be the one! Kiki, who has traveled extensively in Europe and Turkey, married young and had to fight to regain herself again, has now settled in New York and watches Reyna’s growing attachment to Boyd with love and concern.
When Boyd gets out of prison he seems to settle into life pretty easily. He has a job and he and Reyna see each other quite often, while her young son idolizes Boyd. But suddenly Boyd begins talking about a cigarette smuggling gig that some friends have set up. Soon, without even realizing what is happening, Reyna finds herself agreeing to help drive on one of their runs, and then at the last minute, for the sake of her son, she backs out and refuses to make the run. That small decision causes a cascade of effects that touch those she knows and loves but also reaches out beyond to those she doesn’t even know.
Winner of the 2018 Penn/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Silber takes us on a journey of discovery, exploring the ways our lives are entwined and affected by others. She dissects Reyna’s decision and shows us the ripple effects in the pond of life that we might not even foresee or even imagine. By using intertwined story lines that move back and forth in time, we begin to see the interconnections in the lives of these characters and see that same truth in our own lives. Silber writes with gentleness and lightness even as she explores these topics like, love, commitment and self discovery. Her characters are endearingly fallible, doing their best in a complicated, less than perfect world just like all of us. Silber seems to want to comfort us, even while opening our eyes to the ways we are connected, letting us know that we are never truly alone.
Brenda’s Rating ****(4 Out of 5 Stars)
Recommend this book to Sharon, Marian, Lauren, and Keith.
Book Study Worthy? Yes!
Read in ebook format