Magnificent Monday: The Invaders (A Tournament of Books Selection)

Posted 8 February, 2016 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Magnificent Monday: The Invaders (A Tournament of Books Selection)The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak
Published by Simon and Schuster on July 7th 2015
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary
Pages: 240
Format: Kindle Paperwhite
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Over the course of a summer in a wealthy Connecticut community, a forty-something woman and her college-age stepson’s lives fall apart in a series of violent shocks.
Cheryl has never been the right kind of country-club wife. She's always felt like an outsider, and now, in her mid-forties—facing the harsh realities of aging while her marriage disintegrates and her troubled stepson, Teddy, is kicked out of college—she feels cast adrift by the sparkling seaside community of Little Neck Cove, Connecticut. So when Teddy shows up at home just as a storm brewing off the coast threatens to destroy the precarious safe haven of the cove, she joins him in an epic downward spiral.

The Invaders, in a word, is magnificent. It’s a modern day rendering (I suspect intentionally…) of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

I love the parallels that it brings out in modern society (and U.S. politics) Lori, the neighbor in the upper-upper middle class neighborhood with more money than sense erecting a fence the keep ‘the Mexicans’ out. The idea that being poor is equivocal with being dangerous and the upsetting idea of people pooping in the ocean. Despite touching on points of white privilege, isolationism, and class politics it’s also a story about family and marriage.

Told through the voices of Cheryl, the second wife of a man who has lived his life behind the walls of white country club money and privilege, and Teddy, the son from his first marriage. Both voices are equally heartbreaking and at times, equally unlikable.

Despite having been married to Jeffery for ten years, Cheryl is still an outsider and wonders how these people who seemingly have nothing to be unhappy about — as they have everything — are.

I wanted to know which of these women were still having sex with their husbands. I wanted to know if I was pathetic of if this was just how it turned out for everybody.

As Cheryl’s isolation becomes more palpable, a hurricane moves in.

At the same time we have Teddy, who should be an ‘insider’ being born and raised in the country club enclave, but still somehow ends up as an ‘invader’. He has his own demons to conquer and ways of battling them that drag out in the open the idea that we can literally give our kids everything and despite that (or perhaps because of it) they will still have their problems and there’s nothing that we as parents can do to help.

For sure, The Invaders is a dark book, but it’s highly readable, with fully fleshed out, complex characters. What I don’t understand is the poor ratings that The Invaders has on Goodreads and Amazon. My only guess is that it was badly marketed as ‘women’s lit’, which I think that if you pick it up with that mindset, of course, you’re going to hate it.

What do you think, Readers? Has anyone out there read this one? I obviously think that it’s highly underrated… what about you? How do you think it will fare in the Tournament of Books?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

16 Comments/ : , , , , , ,

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  • You’ve now got me interested in this one!

  • I’m nearing the end of this one, and have had a hard time putting it down! I think you’re right maybe about the marketing… it’s initial premise – rich, white people country clubbing with their lives full of lies – is a common one, but the dark and twisty turns in this are sure to turn of the chick lit crowd. Excellent review! I think its success in the Tournament will be highly dependent upon which book it’s matched against.. I mean I guess that’s true for all of them, but it’s not necessarily the stand-out knock out pick for the list… if that even makes any sense.

    • It makes total sense. Like I said, I read it in a single sitting. I don’t think it’s a standout either. I’d like to see it past the first round though. I haven’t read anything patently offensive this year yet, like ADAM from last year.

  • Oh man, this one sounds REALLY good and like exactly what I’m in the mood for right now. Adding it to my library wishlist…

    It definitely doesn’t sound like chick lit to me, so I wonder if that’s it. I also think that GR ratings tend to be a bit erratic sometimes.

  • Lost in Literature 108

    Putting this one on the list!

  • Based on your review and the other comments, maybe I’ll give it another shot. I stopped reading around page 80 because I wasn’t digging it at all. Perhaps I just hadn’t gotten over the hump?

  • I read this book and am thrilled to see it in ToB. It was magnificent. I loved it so much partially because i expected so little going into it. Glad you liked it too.

  • Ohh I loved The Awakening. I should pick this up!

  • Oooh, this looks good!

  • Wow, this sounds like an impressive book to be able to tackle larger issues and a personal story without getting bogged down.