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Review: In 'I See You Everywhere,' Julia Glass traces 25 years of sibling rivalry, affection

Julia Glass stunned the literary world six years ago with her bestselling first novel, Three Junes, which went on to win the National Book Award. In her third novel, I See You Everywhere, Glass proves her eye for detail and character is as sharp as ever.

Two sisters, Louisa and Clem, take turns telling the story of their adult lives over the course of 25 years. Their relationship is fraught with tension, love and a baffled confusion about their inability to truly understand each other.

"Ever notice how sisters, when they aren't best friends, make particularly vicious enemies?" muses Clem on her way to pick up her sister from the airport. The two are not enemies, except for a short period of time when Louisa is bitter about a stolen boyfriend, but their push/pull relationship will ring true to most siblings.

Glass' craft shines in this novel, as in her previous ones. The arc of the characters' lives from callow youths to seasoned, weary adults is marvelously spun. If the sisters are sometimes selfish, self-obsessed or prone to self-pity, they are also brave, indomitable and loyal.

Louisa and Clem narrate alternating chapters, which read like self-contained short stories. This format makes it easy to become engrossed in each self-sustaining section. However, each time a character from a previous chapter appears, he or she is reintroduced, as if to a new audience. Hence their mother's occupation as a dog breeder is explained several times. A boyfriend who was central to one narrative is redescribed in a later chapter. It's a jarring and annoying anomaly in an otherwise beautifully composed novel.

The sisters' desire to improve the world, to grow closer, to find their path in life will strike a chord in readers. This novel may not quite reach the depth of her fantastic first novel, but Glass' fine touch with the English language and the book's easy flow will make reading it a pleasure.

Tammar Stein is a novelist living in Florida. She is the author of "Light Years" and "High Dive."

I See You Everywhere

By Julia Glass

Pantheon, 304 pages, $24

Review: In 'I See You Everywhere,' Julia Glass traces 25 years of sibling rivalry, affection 11/01/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 5:52pm]
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