Small World by Laura Zigman

Cover of Small World by Laura Zigman. The cover is a closeup of a Massachusetts house with the lights on

Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jan 9, 2023

Hello and welcome to the 2023 edition of New Title Tuesday, where we look at a new release that hits the publishing world. While most of us love to read best-sellers, fewer of us like to wait in line for them, so in this particular space we tend to focus on books that might not have the 800+ or so holds on them like, you know, some others. (*cough* Prince Harry *cough*.)

In Small World by Laura Zigman, two divorced, childless sisters who have lived apart for over twenty years, Lydia and Joyce, move in together to try to rebuild a relationship that was strained and, honestly, never really there to begin with. The middle sister, Eleanor, was born with cerebral palsy and died an early death; their mother was obsessed with taking care of Eleanor and afterward dedicated her life to the cause of disability rights, leaving the two sisters to drift apart in their own ways, each wondering why they never got much family attention.

Moving back in together, however, brings with it an entire new set of challenges - Joyce works quietly from home and lurks on a neighborhood social media app, vicariously living her life through the posts of the neighborhood. Lydia, fresh from LA, is more brash, eager to get her way, and clashes with the more emotionally fragile Joyce. A first, the sisters establish a cordial but distant relationship, but when new neighbors in the apartment building upstairs open up a underground yoga studio - yes, you read that correctly - it kicks off a series of events that makes the sisters reevaluate their histories and truly see each other for the first time.

Zigman writes in a charming brand of low-key quirkiness that excels at little touches of humor in describing the world around these characters even though the main plotline - the two sisters connecting despite thier emotional scars from childhood - could very well get dark and stormy in another author's hands. Zigman writes with humor and insight, and mixes the deeper, emotionally poignant passages with warmth. A novel that comfortably sets at the intersection of literary fiction, women's fiction, and up lit, this should resonate with a lot of readers. Give it a shot.


Reviewed by Gregg W.
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