This is one popular book. It’s been on the NYT Bestseller list for 35 weeks, there is a movie deal in the offing, and a cottage industry of merch on Etsy. Addie freckle-constellation t-shirts, anyone?
No? OK, then.
A brief synopsis: in 1714, Addie made the mistake of praying to the wrong God, at the wrong time, and asked for something not nearly specific enough, and she ended up cursed to live forever as someone who is forgotten the moment she is out of sight. The second the door closes, she was never there. The minute you fall asleep, you will wake with a stranger in your bed. She’s been living like this for 300 years, and then one day, someone remembers her. Henry works in a bookstore, and the fact that he can remember Addie is literally the only thing interesting about him. The book flashes between the present and vignettes from the last 300 years, showing us some of the fleeting people from Addie’s past, as Henry interviews her and writes the book of her life.
I’m always a little suspicious of books that everyone likes. There’s too much room for disappointment. But, for every Ready Player Two, there is a Pillars of the Earth, so I soldier on.
Wait. You still haven’t read Pillars of the Earth? Sigh. It’s like you are just not interested in THE BEST cathedral building the 12th century has to offer. You…disappoint me.
There are no cathedrals built in this book, which is a shame. The book does ask if you can’t build a cathedral, and most of us can’t, not really…how can you influence those who do? How can you get your face carved into a cathedral that someone else is building? How can you get a writer to write about you, or a painter to paint you, or a song writer to sing about you…when they can’t remember your name, or your face, or really that you exist at all?
What is interesting for those of us who are never going to make a mark, or leave a legacy, is how you can influence the legacy of others. How you can get a song, or a poem, written about you, when you are as fleeting as the wind. How your freckles will end up in painting after painting after painting, when you were never there to begin with.
I gave the book four goodreads stars, but that’s because goodreads doesn’t do halfsies, and also because the theme seemed important, even if the execution was a little clunky, and even if the boy who finally remembered her was so forgettable himself. My cousin Kristen said that it was 50 pages too long, and I think I agree with that. But that underlying idea that even we invisibles can make our mark through others…well, that was a little intoxicating.