Saturday, November 4, 2023

Wellness by Nathan Hill

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 624 pages
Published: September 2023

Wellness by Nathan Hill is being touted as the next great American novel. I am not sure if that is the case. I didn’t read Hill’s debut, The Nix, but I will say he does a great job of writing an engaging story that compels the reader to stick with the story until this end. And at more than 600 pages, it can take a while to get there. I enjoyed the journey, but I am still undecided on how I feel about the destination. 

Wellness is a story of growth for main characters Jack and Elizabeth who meet in Chicago as young adults, fall in love, get married, have a child, and then realize they aren’t the people they were when they met. (Is this groundbreaking?) Through a series of flashbacks and present day scenarios the author illustrates the events that formed the characters into the people they are presently. In an attempt to discern who they are as mature adults, the two embark on a variety of tactics to save themselves and their marriage. Are they successful? I’m not quite sure, I think the ending can be left up to interpretation.

Even though this was a longer novel, it didn’t seem that way. I was invested and able to finish the story at a moderate pace. I enjoyed the flashbacks that gave the reader detailed background into the nuances of the characters. They were both clearly drawn together because they’d suffered from horrible parenting. What I did not care for the overabundance of cited references throughout a fiction book. It almost made it seem as though it was fiction purporting to be non-fiction. I think the story could have been just as strong with out and the dozens of reference works listed at the end. 

Recommendation: I really wanted to enjoy this book. After hundred of pages, I was all in, but the ending kind of fell flat to me after all that build up. I think the author was struggling with bringing it all together, but I did enjoy his writing style. I may pick up The Nix or his next work, but sorry Oprah, I’m just unsure about the accolades that all the critics are giving this one. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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