Wow, Anne Tyler, what happened to you? Vinegar Girl is the fourth book I’ve read by this Pulitzer Prize-winning author and god damn was it not up to snuff.
Not that I’ve loved all of her other books. I only gave two stars to Breathing Lessons, the book she won the Pulitzer for, though The Accidental Tourist earned five from me. So, yeah, I guess I already knew she was a little uneven but still. I was shocked by what a total snooze-fest this book was. I get that it’s based off of The Taming of the Shrew but what a waste – she could have done a lot more with the source material.
The story follows a father and his two daughters, one of whom is in her 30s and the other in high school. The father is a scientist doing research on autoimmune diseases and comes up with a dramatic plan to keep his research assistant, whose visa is expiring, in the United States.
The actual plot was riddled with holes. In an effort to avoid spoilers I will just say that some major things that happen were totally unbelievable and the author did zero work to try and show us why the hell the character would be making a decision that didn’t at all fit in with the few things we’d learned about him or her.
Really, this should have been a short story. There wasn’t enough plot content to warrant an entire book and really it just sort of stopped, mid-story line, and then an EPILOGUE was attached that really didn’t fit in with what we knew about the characters.
Speaking of the characters, they were all one-dimensional and none of them experienced any type of growth in this book. It really read to me like Anne Tyler either needed a payday or she just had a shitty book in her and had to get it out in order to get back to her decent / good fiction. Or maybe she’d only read the Cliff Notes version of Taming of the Shrew? This book is very, very missable in my opinion.