Title: The Nix
Author: Nathan Hill
Pub Date: August 2016
My Rating: ★★★★☆
View on Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A hilarious and deeply touching debut novel about a son, the mother who left him as a child, and how his search to uncover the secrets of her life leads him to reclaim his own.
Meet Samuel Andresen-Anderson: stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, obsessive player of an online video game. He hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, since she walked out when he was a child. But then one day there she is, all over the news, throwing rocks at a presidential candidate. The media paints Faye as a militant radical with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother never left her small Iowa town. Which version of his mother is the true one? Determined to solve the puzzle – and finally have something to deliver to his publisher – Samuel decides to capitalize on his mother’s new fame by writing a tell-all biography, a book that will savage her intimately, publicly. But first, he has to locate her; and second, to talk to her without bursting into tears.
As Samuel begins to excavate her history, the story moves from the rural Midwest of the 1960s to New York City during the Great Recession and Occupy Wall Street to the infamous riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention, and finally to Norway, home of the mysterious Nix that his mother told him about as a child. And in these places, Samuel will unexpectedly find that he has to rethink everything he ever knew about his mother – a woman with an epic story of her own, a story she kept hidden from the world.
The Nix is a long book, and it took me a long time to read it. Sometimes I was reading the book every day, and sometimes I had a week-long break from reading. This definitely had an effect on my experience with the book. The Nix is a mashup of stories of many different people, with stories of two people at the front – Samuel and his mother Faye. This collage of stories seems off at the beginning, it’s confusing on what the story really will be about. Just later you notice what’s really important and brings value to the overall message of the book. I can see how the author wanted to add those parts about Samuel’s student, and his game buddies. But some of them just felt unnecessary. I enjoyed them, but I also wouldn’t miss them if they never made to the book.
Reading The Nix was really emotional for me. It has parts that made me cry, other made me extremely angry at the world, and some made me smile and laugh. I love books that make me feel all of the feels. I’m impressed with author’s ability to write so beautifully, and so masterfully trigger emotions in the readers.
The Nix is a complex story, that at the core is about the mother and the son. It’s about her childhood and how it impacted her life, and how it impacted the lives of her son. It’s about the son and effect of his childhood on his adult life. It’s a great read, and I’ll definitely will read Hill’s next book.