A selection for this year’s Morning News Tournament of Books, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia was a surprise to me. Going in, I thought it was a dystopian-future YA novel. Imagine my surprise, then, to find it set in a 70’s commune in upstate New York. Because I didn’t expect it, the book felt utterly surprising to me. Written in short, lyrical bursts, it engaged me from start to finish.
I devoured it in a few days, and am hesitant to say more about it, so that you might enter without baggage as well. What I will say is that I loved reading it, and it was full of characters who I loved and cared about. An early section is narrated by a small child, but was not irritating to me as was Emma Donoghue’s Room. The time frame reminded me of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad.
Fair warning: the end of the book centers around a character’s parent dying. I have many friends who lost a parent recently, and this last section might be excruciating to someone still grieving such a loss.