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Etta and Otto and Russell and James: A Novel

Etta and Otto and Russell and James: A Novel - Emma Hooper This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

2 Stars

This book didn't work for me. I read a lot of books because I enjoy reading. I love connecting with a story, falling in love with characters, and everything involved with being told a really great story. When I come to the end of a book, I love the feeling of satisfaction that I get with most stories. This book left me feeling completely underwhelmed and quite confused.

I liked the idea behind this book and decided to read it because it is different than what I would normally chose to read. I thought that this book was very easy to read and I liked the fact that the letters between Etta and Otto helped tell the story. I am a huge fan of quirky characters but the characters in this book just seemed overly odd

I had some issues with quite a few things in this book. First of all, I didn't like the fact that not a single quotation mark was used in the book. There was a lot of dialog but not a single quotation mark. I know that the author choose to omit quotation marks for some purpose but I found it confusing overall. I thought that the writing style was a bit oversimplified and vague for my tastes.

I really have no problems in just going along with an unrealistic story. I do it all the time and it doesn't bother me and I usually enjoy that type of story. When a story crosses over the threshold from unrealistic into ridiculous as it did in this book, I start having a hard time. This story is about a woman in her 80's, Etta, who decides to walk thousands of kilometers across Canada so that she can see the ocean. Etta has trouble remembering things but she promises in the letter to her husband, Otto, that she will try to remember to come back. What does Otto do when he sees this letter from his wife? He doesn't try to find her. Instead, he learns to cook and starts making paper mache animals.

I did like the parts of the book that took place in the past much better than those set in the present day. Even with all of that background information, I just never really understood Etta and Otto's love story. I felt a little bad for Russell because he always seemed to be on the sidelines but I don't think that his character added much to the story. Etta's companion on her walk, James, is a coyote that talks to Etta. The magical realism didn't add anything to this story in my opinion.

As I read the book, I hoped that the ending would make everything worthwhile. I thought that the ending of this book was horrible and pointless. I would not recommend this book to others.

I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster via Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.