Top critical review
Love Ann Patchett... but this is a very highly priced "book" which is basically a slightly longer essay with tons of filler...
Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2015
I understood, going in, that this was a longer essay/book based on Patchett's Sarah Lawrence commencement address. I knew it was 97 pages long and wasn't expecting it to be much more than say novella-length. But there is really a TON of filler in this -- from the spacing choices to the endless stock photos, I found the price/content to be sorely mismatched. The actual essay content felt equal in length to say... a longer article in the New Yorker or Slate... which is not something I then expect to pay ~$10 kindle and ~$12 hardcover for.
Now, I get that that's a lot of complaining about price, so let me move on and speak to the content.
First, let me say again, I LOVE Ann Patchett.
But there were many times when it felt as though this slightly-reworked commencement speech was dragging on endlessly. If you've read her other stuff, much of it will feel repetitive (like shorter/longer versions of other life event she's previously alluded to) and it just didn't have the same "spark" that a lot of writing normally exhibits.
She's the queen of talking about life and career transitions, she's witty and intelligent and an amazing writer, but this is a project that drags on and ultimately washes out its message (that life's a work in progress, that we've got to be constantly open to change and accepting of new unexpected challenges, etc).