by Gloria M (San Jose): I am totally beyond satisfied that “Wellness” by Nathan Hill was the first book I read for 2024! (Like many readers I always try to choose an epic one to begin the year!) It totally deserves its selection as an NPR best book of the year and an Oprah’s Book Club pick, though it was already on my radar since I loved Hill’s first book “The Nix” and I fervently hope he is already furiously writing his next great book!

“Wellness” tells the tale of Elizabeth and Jack who meet when they are college students. Fast forward and now they routinely tell their story of living in apartment buildings directly across from one another and how they watched each other furtively until they finally met accidentally in a dive bar and Jack simply said “Come with” and thus their relationship began. But now, they are older, and life is filled with the mundane, and they have a child, and issues with the construction and designing of their dream home, and serious problems with their careers. Throw in suburban drama and social media trolling helmed by Brandie (of course she spells her name with an ie!) a mean girl mom who hides behind her positive thinking mantra while sabotaging anyone who doesn’t fit in with her narrative and an interesting couple with an open marriage who fixate on Elizabeth and Jack.

Hill has taken the traditional love story into the modern era with great style. We watch Elizabeth and Jack face the hard truths about their lives. We learn they both have dysfunctional families that they fled, but have they repeated the mistakes of their own parents? Elizabeth has never told Jack the complete story of how her father wanted her to fail at everything and in turn Jack has never told Elizabeth why he feels responsible for the death of his beloved older sister when he was only nine years old.

As Hill writes, ” …people created a story that explained themselves to themselves, and then they believed their made-up story was the actual objective truth.” Can this couple unearth their inner selves and then reveal them to one another? Or is it as Jack fears, “His wife and son were becoming other people, new people, people who found Jack more and more unnecessary.”

Hill’s writing style will appeal to fans of the literary genre and those who prefer a family tale that is relevant to today’s society and all its enormous overwhelming flood of information and striving to be the best at everything one does. The reader is engrossed and captured within this saga on the very first page and it will linger in their thoughts for a long, long, long time. It deserves to be on the top of your TBR list!!