Emma wasn’t supposed to end up like this, spending her Wednesday night alone in her local upstate dive bar. She grew up in a wealthy if distant family in Connecticut, attended an ivy league school, and could have worked on Wall Street.
Although Emma, a financial genius, professor at a local college, and bestselling author, has little in common with the locals who gather in the bar night after night, they make Emma her comfortable since they demand nothing. She settles in for an evening of drinking while avoiding the calls and texts from her best friends who would surely disapprove of her plans.
The book unfolds over the course of an evening, with each chapter representing an hour. What begins as a quiet, ordinary night transforms as secrets are revealed and relationships are challenged. At the same time, Emma grapples with her past, what tethers her to this place, and what her future holds.
I loved this book—the story, the writing, the characters, and the structure. Emma has a mean streak, is a bit vindictive, and is quite unlikable, yet I liked her very much especially as her story unfolded. I thought the narrative and pacing were inventive and effective. Tears may have been shed. If I could change anything, though, it might be developing some of the figures from Emma’s past more thoroughly.
Ordinary Hazards published yesterday. I highly recommend it for fans of literary fiction and character-driven novels.
Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.