I have, of course, heard of Joyce Maynard before, but have never read a book she has written. When I saw Under the Influence, I was excited to finally get a chance to read one of her books. And I am glad I did. At the heart of the tale is Helen, a down on her luck divorced mother, who loses custody of her son after a DUI. At the lowest point of her life, in comes a couple, Ava and Swift, and they bring the companionship and personal bond she has been searching for. Helen’s life is now seemingly complete and her new friends run every aspect of her days. Even after she meets a man who is perfect for her, the disapproval of her friends makes her turn away. Then her son becomes enamored with Swift and in one instance everything Helen has fought for could be gone.
Joyce Maynard is a bestseller for a reason. Her writing is crisp and she can pack a lot of emotion in a few words. She can insert you into a character’s mind with ease and you feel like you know and understand them. The pacing had some parts that dragged a little, but they were quickly absorbed into the rest of the story. The world created was real, Helen lived a very real life, and while Swift and Ava were decidedly over the top, they fit in their roles perfectly. The characters were the highlight. Helen ebbed from manic highs to tragic lows in her life and we are able to sit front row center for them. Swift and Ava were perfectly crafted in their oddity and you could sense the undercurrent of just not right in them.
Under the Influence is a one sitting read in the best of ways. Quick and sharp, it was a definite page turner. I enjoyed the story and the writing, and suggest you go get a copy of Under the Influence for yourself. I am happy I finally got the chance to experience Maynard for myself and will now check and see what other books of hers my library has.
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.