Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review: "We Are All Made of Glue" by Marina Lewycka

After Georgie Sinclair's husband walks out on her following an argument about a toothbrush holder, her life seems about to fall apart. Her daughter doesn't call her anymore, preferring instead to send brief texts here and there, her 16-year-old son, Ben, seems intent on surfing born-again websites on the Internet, and both her career and her social life have never seemed more boring. When her eccentric elderly neighbor, Mrs. Shapiro, rummages through Georgie's garbage one night the two strike up an unusual friendship. They bond over Mrs. Shapiro's odd collection of cats and discounted grocery store food, but when Mrs. Shapiro has a fall and ends up in the hospital Georgie is surprised to find out that she has been named as next of kin. Suddenly Georgie's time is occupied with trying to prevent dishonest social workers from putting Mrs. Shapiro into a home, as well as trying to keep her elderly neighbor's house from falling into complete disrepair. Georgie is also occupied with figuring out if she wants to make her marriage work and trying to keep her son out of the clutches of a persistent online cult. In addition, she must unravel the mystery that is Mrs. Shapiro, who is certainly not who she says that she is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this clever novel, which flawlessly combined the present-day troubles of Georgie with the rich history of wartime Europe and the Middle East. The characters are created in such a way that we come to care about them: especially Georgie, the energetic Mrs. Shapiro, and the innocent Ben. At one point in the novel we have no idea how this complex mess of problems, Georgie's, Ben's, Mrs. Shapiro's, can come to any kind of satisfying conclusion, yet it is at this point that Marina Lewycka gently starts steering us towards the end.

The only problem that I could say that I had with this novel was the gratuitous sex. I had absolutely no problem with Georgie going out and trying to feel like a woman again following the crumbling of her marriage, yet the sex seemed almost randomly inserted, "insert sex here". The man whom Georgie was sleeping with didn't seem to have feelings for her, and really she seemed to have no feelings for him beyond erotic ones. There seemed to be no connection between the two of them, and therefore no real reason to jump into bed with almost no warning.

Aside from that (and that really was just a minor problem that I had, the sex scenes certainly don't dominate the book), We Are All Made of Glue was both an entertaining and a thought-provoking book, leaving no doubt in my mind as to the talent of the author. I would highly recommend it to any contemporary or literary fiction fan. Thank-you to Penguin Canada for this complimentary review copy!


  1. What a unique premise for a novel! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Oooo. I'll have to see when this is due to release here as I really liked her first book and this one sounds quite appealing too.