A Good Hard Look is Ann Napolitano's second novel and is structured around the actual life of Flannery O'Conner. She was in fact diagnosed with lupus at the age of twenty-five and moved home to Andalusia where she continued to write, and to "collect" a large flock of birds. These birds, and specifically peacocks, are featured heavily in the novel; their shrilling cries coincide with momentous occasions in Milledgeville, both good and heartbreakingly bad.
Although I was not sure where A Good Hard Look would take me when I first opened the book, I absolutely loved the journey. I was consistently drawn in by the string of choices made by incredibly real characters, and how those choices shaped their lives after one tragic afternoon.
Ann Napolitano has a special knack for hinting about events without fully defining them, allowing the reader to draw her own conclusions, to decipher the meaning through the clues that are offered. At heart, A Good Hard Look is very much like life: things are not always crystal clear or perfect in the end, but even an imperfect ending is beautiful in its journey.
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