David’s Review of Three Junes by Julia Glass

Three Junes is one of those books that should be a lot longer: three narratives, three points of views, with decades passing in the lives of the characters. Yet Glass takes the family saga and boils it down to three snapshots, three important periods, and uses the time constraint of three months to keep the book brief. It was recommended to me by my friend Jo Dunn for this reason: that I could see how Glass keeps things short while still juggling a lot of time and spatial difference. She employs a great economy of word: not drawing things out, but still managing to handle the same depth of larger family sagas such as House of Spirits or One Hundred Years of Solitude. Glass’s method for brevity is partly achieved in that the three sections are wholly distinct. Point of view doesn’t alternate between or within chapters so in each section, we get one strong voice.

These clear delineations do not affect its power. Three Junes keeps a resonance, with mysteries and bubbling secrets threading throughout. I feel like the book lost a lot of steam in the denouement, that the final section lacked the power of the first two, but that things still tied up neatly.

When I tried to describe the book to someone yesterday, I found myself unable to sum it up in a way that gave it justice. The book’s plot is so simple, that trying to describe it in those terms sells it short. Much like Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, that’s a sign to me that Glass has created something very internal and powerful. Thank you Jo for recommending it.

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