STARRED REVIEW
June 25, 2019

The Most Fun We Ever Had

By Claire Lombardo

Throughout The Most Fun We Ever Had, debut novelist Claire Lombardo’s characters challenge their self-defined roles and the assumptions they’ve made about their family. This family drama tracks the Sorensens through 40 years, examining the way family ties affect each person’s identity. Lombardo’s tale is an immersive account of family, identity and the tensions that can arise from both.

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Meet the Sorenson sisters.

Wendy, the eldest sister, has always been headstrong. Even as a baby, her powerful will sometimes overwhelmed her mother. Now she’s a young widow, adrift years after her husband’s death and quick to turn to alcohol in an attempt to hide from discomfort.

That discomfort often arises when her sister Violet arrives. Violet is Wendy’s Irish twin. Her picture-perfect family provides glaring contrast to Wendy’s aloneness.

Liza is a tenured professor whose accomplishments are overshadowed by her boyfriend’s depression. She isn’t sure she can help him—but shortly after attaining tenure, Liza learns she’s having his child.

Grace is the baby of the family—a fact she’s acutely aware of even as she faces postgraduate life. She has always felt coddled, as though she isn’t capable of facing the world alone. Grace is trying to find her way in Oregon, hundreds of miles from her family’s Chicago home. But the distance leaves her just as isolated as her youth always has.

The sisters inevitably compare themselves not only to each other but also to their parents, Marilyn and David. The couple met in college in the 1970s, and their ongoing love story is so vibrant that many assume it’s easy. It isn’t. But they continue to turn to one another for love and support, even as they worry about their adult daughters—and the grandson one of the girls gave up for adoption 15 years earlier. Jonah Bendt’s arrival upends what Marilyn and David knew about their daughters, one of whom helped hide another’s pregnancy.

Throughout The Most Fun We Ever Had, debut novelist Claire Lombardo’s characters challenge their self-defined roles and the assumptions they’ve made about their family. This family drama tracks the Sorensens through 40 years, examining the way family ties affect each person’s identity. Lombardo’s tale is an immersive account of family, identity and the tensions that can arise from both.

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The Most Fun We Ever Had

The Most Fun We Ever Had

By Claire Lombardo
Doubleday
ISBN 9780385544252

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