days of awe book coverReviewed by Jax Kepple

Isabel Moore’s best friend, Josie, has died in a tragic car accident and Iz is left to pick up the pieces in Lauren Fox’s uneven but ultimately engrossing novel. Fox is able to create complex, multi-dimensional characters while examining the role of grief on modern relationships.

Isabel, her husband Chris, and daughter Hannah are extremely close with Josie and Josie’s husband Mark. The fivesome have a happy relationship together, and Isabel and Chris’ relationship is solid. The seemingly great relationship is torn apart when Josie suddenly dies, sending everyone into free fall.

Fox mixes up the timeline, intertwining the main story with flashbacks that provide solid backstory to everyone’s life before Josie dies. Specific occurrences that happen at a weekend away with the students at Isabel and Josie’s school and at a teacher conference help to provide basis to another side of Josie that Isabel was not aware of. She realizes too late that Josie’s demons have overtaken her and ruined Josie’s marriage and career. Iz feels crippling grief and anger at Josie, and is forced to look deep within herself to make it right.

Isabel’s marriage has become broken, and she attends a “Relationships in Transition” group with her mother, Helene. Helene is a fascinating character, a child who escaped WWII Germany and judges people by assessing whether they would “hide our people in the attic.” Fox adds so many layers to Helene, she feels as if she is alive and sitting right next to you, holding her hand that was affected by a stroke. Helene is Isabel’s steady rock, and counsels her on a potential new relationship. Instead of Iz pulling into herself, she puts herself out there with some interesting results.

Days of Awe is a complex story about a family who is dealing with being torn apart and learning to get back up. One glaring issue would be Mark’s new relationship: it is not believable that he would be attracted to someone who would have ruined his wife’s career, no matter how much it was warranted. It didn’t make sense to Mark’s character. Other than that, it was a fantastic story.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Knopf. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.