I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Let me start by clarifying that I am a big fan of Wally Lamb's writing in general. I have eagerly devoured all of his books to date and have enjoyed them all. I was less keen on WISHIN' AND HOPIN', his novel released in 2010, but I still enjoyed it. I'LL TAKE YOU THERE is a story of the adult Felix Funicello, whose 10-year-old self was the main character in WISHIN' AND HOPIN'. Felix is an adult now, divorced from his ultra-feminist wife and the father of Aliza, an educated woman making her way in the world. He teaches the history of film at a local college and he also runs the Monday night film club at a local resurrected theatre. When a ghost appears to him one night at the theatre prior to his film class he believes that there is something wrong with his head. Perhaps he's lost it? However, the ghost, Lois, who was a female pioneer in the film industry, appears to him several times and takes him back in time to when he was a child and shows him how the women in his life shaped who he has become today.
I'll start with what I liked about I'LL TAKE YOU THERE. The writing, as it always is with Wally Lamb, was impeccable. I simply enjoy reading the words that he puts on the page. I also enjoyed the overall theme of the book. Lamb writes about women and the pressures of society on them and how these pressures shape feminism. The theme was clever and timely.
Despite the excellent writing and interesting theme, I had a lot of issues with this book and I almost quit reading it several times. First of all, the timeline can be confusing. It is all over the place. First we are in present day, then we've been taken back in time. Since the story uses flashbacks as a tool, much of the book is based on Felix's personal experiences and I had a hard time figuring out what the relevance of these reminisces were. Some of the relevance was made apparent later in the book, but they lost me at first. There are a lot of film references made throughout the book that went over my head since I'm not a film buff myself. If you are into classic films, you may enjoy those references more than me. Certain parts of the book just ended abruptly and I wondered if those parts could have been expanded on more.
If this is your first foray into reading Wally Lamb I would recommend you try one of his other books first. This is my least favourite of his releases. I really hope that he returns to his other style of novel for his future releases as this one was, overall, a disappointment.