I didn’t believe my love for John Irving could grow any more (I even named my beagle “Owen Meany”) but it certainly did after reading his new novel on Sunday. That’s right. I finished the whole thing in one day.
In One Person tells the story of Billy Abbot, a young bi-sexual man growing up in a small New England town. He attends an all-boys’ school and is afraid of the “crushes on the wrong people” that plague him. His stepfather introduces him to the town librarian, Miss Frost, who helps Billy gain some insight into his feelings by encouraging him to read classic novels.
While Billy is the focus of the novel, Miss Frost is the character that I will never forget. She is beautiful, smart, and secretive and has a great influence on Billy. She also has the most wonderful line in the whole book: “My dear boy, please don’t put a label on me—don’t make me a category before you get to know me!”
Irving’s unique descriptions of Billy’s family (including a cross dressing grandfather), friends, and lovers make the book impossible to put down. Irving has the ability to make a reader walk a mile in a character’s shoes. He also takes on the social and political issues that faced America during the 1960’s and the decades that followed. I already miss the wonderful and interesting people I met while reading In One Person.
Reviewed by Laura Beth Walker