Machine: A Novel

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Machine is a novel that dives deep into the pressures of age, gender, and class. The unnamed narrator is complex; the novel is as much, if not more, focused on the damaged psyche of the speaker as the concrete plot points that affect her. Taking the drowning of a local girl as its driving event, the novel’s braided structure pieces together fragments of a wild summer in a resort town as the narrator’s wealthy family falls apart. The story widens its focus from the narrator’s unfaithful father, “weak” mother, hotheaded friends, and drug-abusing brother, to discuss adolescence, sexuality, desire, and privilege.

The experimental style may be jarring at first, but it does well to express the dizzying pace of the summer, the recklessness of youth, and the anger of a narrator who is unsure where to direct her hurt. This novel is not for readers accustomed to orthodox form. However, the language and syntax, alive and poetic, allow what would otherwise be a fairly traditional plot to become something deeper and more emotionally vivid than other “teenage summer” books.

What this book is not is a mystery about a girl drowning. It is not a fun and action-packed read following summer drama. It is a raw book that lives in the interiority of its narrator and dwells on the various ways families, friends, and people can break each other.


Reviewed By:

Author Susan Steinberg
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count
Publisher Graywolf Press
Publish Date 2019-10-01
ISBN 9781555978471
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2019
Category Popular Fiction
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