The basics: Told in alternating chapters, Girl Through Glass is the story of a young girl's coming of age at the highest levels of New York City ballet in the late 1970's, and where she is now, a dance history professor somewhere in Ohio. While it appears to be a simple narrative at first, it soon becomes clear there are many mysteries between the 1970's and today for the reader to discover.
My thoughts: Over the years I find myself less drawn to traditional coming of age stories, so I was excited to see this one offered two timelines, a narrative technique I enjoy. As is often the case with such a structure, I find myself trying to fit the pieces together as I read. The biggest challenge of dual narratives are what to revela when, and while I took issue with a few of Wilson's choices as I read, I admit I can't come up with a better way to tell this story.
As I read, I found myself enjoying the modern store of Kate more. It's not surprising, as I'm dranw to tales of academia, and this Kate makes some spectacularly bad and fascinating choices, which did make me curious about how she to that point. At times, the earlier storyline was just as interesting, but it moved at a slower pace in the beginning.
One of the biggest successes of the dual narrative was Kate's ability to offer context and academic insight into dance. To do so in Mira's teenage years would have weighed it down, and this knowledge helps elevate this novel to much more.
Audiobook thoughts: I've enjoyed Tavia Gilbert's narration in the past, and I mostly enjoyed it here. I found a couple of her pronunciations odd. The name of one character was so unique to me, I grabbed a print copy at the library to see how it was spelled, and I was surprised to see it was a name I'd always heard pronounced differently. From that point, I found the character's name distracting. Overall, her performance was mostly straightforward, with a few voices thrown in for some characters. It's hard to tell if the novel's foreshadowing was due to Gilbert's narratino or the words itself. Ultimately, I liked this one on audio, but I don't know that I'd recommend it over the print.
Favorite passage: "I know there is never only one version of the past. We resurrect the past to suit the needs of the present."
The verdict: Girl Through Glass is not a novel whose storyline swept me away, but it was a novel I can't stop thinking about, both its substance and its structure. It's a book I enjoyed reading as much for its construction as for its plot, which makes me very excited for what Wilson will write next. The interwoven storylines of this novel are complex, and while not always perfectly executed, both are interesting and feature dynamic characters.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 10 hours 12 minutes (309 pages)
Publication date: January 26, 2016
Source: personal copy
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