Diane Aziz is a single mother who works as a nurse to support her three children, Walter, Lina, and Donnie. Now Walter is heading off to college. Driving him from Los Angeles to college at UC Berkeley will be the last thing she does before falling into a debilitating depression. Lina is still in high school and Donnie is much younger when the two have to deal with a mother who won’t get out of bed. When Diane needs to be institutionalized in a state hospital, a close friend of their mother, Julie freely chooses to care for them as their father has never been a part of their lives.
Commitments are the thread that weaves this multigenerational saga together. Commitments to each other, between family and friends. Commitments to an institution, school, work. The narrative is also a coming-of-age drama as it follows Walter, Lina, and Donnie from 1972 in to the 1980s as they each endeavor to deal with their individual trials, personal and financial, while finding their way into adulthood and trying to do what they can for their mother.
Commitment excels as an in-depth character study. Anyone who enjoys family sagas with incredible character development will appreciate Commitment, as will those who have experienced life-changing events and have found friends to stand in the gap with them. The emotions and inner life of the siblings is captured in a realistic manner and each of them are full realized characters. You will care about them and wish them well.
The quality of the writing is absolutely exquisite. Simpson captures the realistic, complex emotions and struggles that each sibling faces. There are no dramatic twists other than those experienced as the characters navigate life and all the problems and pressure that can occur. They persevere and manage to make their way to adulthood without parental support but with the support and help of each other as well as others along the way. I love Commitment and it will surely be on the list of my favorite books in 2023. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday.