Literally just turning the pages in this book was a struggle for me. So, ironically I can’t tell you why I expected more depth from I Can’t Tell You Why by Elaine Robertson North, but I just did. And instead I was left with a novel that was more summary than story, had more awful characters than characters worth liking, barely allowed readers to get to know the characters and their relationships in a real way instead of including meaningful conversations and events, and for some reason focused on a lot more menial ideas than thoughts of actual import. And I don’t know, I just really did expect a lot more from this book. But I’m realizing now, after having read it, that even the title should have clued me in to the fact that this book wasn’t going to have much deep thought. It just uses a cop-out as an excuse for the awful behavior of everyone involved. And I just cannot.
I think the worst part about this book is that it was so long alongside never actually giving the reader anything worth reading. The novel is a giant summary of events with a smattering of useless dialogue in between. The characters make horrible decisions for what seems like no bloody reason at all because you never get enough of the characters–it’s all summarized!–to understand their motives, give a damn about them in any sense at all, or to even see how their relationships make sense.
I still have no understanding how any of these people cared about each other in the slightest. I don’t understand what there ever could have possibly been for Alex to see something worthwhile in Dani or for Dani to see something worthwhile in Alex. Every single piece of their relationship that might have made them caring for each other make sense was entirely left out of the novel or briefly summarized. I mean, the book starts out with Alex propositioning Dani for sex while plainly stating that he had no intention of leaving his wife.
It’s just gross. It’s awful. And getting through this book was incredibly difficult. A novel that is mostly summary is not going to keep my interest. And at the end of the day, the writing wasn’t so terrible grammatically that I had a problem with it, but the story and the characters need work. I can enjoy books where I hate the characters–see Sutter Keeley from The Spectacular Now–and appreciate them for their own merits, but I couldn’t appreciate I Can’t Tell You Why.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.