An urgent, deeply moving, wholly original novel by one of the most wildly talented writers in America. This is Spiotta's best book yet, rich with all the joyful immersion-in-culture that characterized her earlier work, and of which she is a master, but with, it seems to me, more heart, hope, and urgency. There's not a smarter, more engaging, more celebratory writer working today than Dana Spiotta, and here she shows us to ourselves with stunning, sometimes lacerating, honesty, but also with a feeling of genuine hope for us, i.e., with kindness. I finished the book last night and woke this morning both fonder of, and more terrified for, America
What a thrilling experience to take a wayward journey along with Dana Spiotta's heroine, in the social landscape of America when America is probing its future, in a woman's complex internal landscape as she forges forward. Wayward is a fiercely funny and deliciously subversive novel
Thrilling . . . Spiotta's novels are unfailingly dense with life-the textures, digressions, and details thereof-and Wayward is no exception. The novel is at once satirical and earnest: Sam asks what she can do to atone for her thoughtless privilege, what role she might play as an agent of change. There's much comedy in the asking, but the novel makes clear that the answers aren't straightforward. Spiotta offers grand themes and beautiful peripheral incidents . . . she writes with sly humor and utter seriousness; a rare articulation of midlife now. For this reader, there is uncommon pleasure in the paradoxes of this climacteric tale
Wayward is about rescuing your life from the mess you've made of it so far, while your body goes haywire ... Simmering under Spiotta's deceptively breezy, fluid description of everyday life in 2017 Syracuse are large and perplexing questions about the eternal interplay of idealism and pragmatism, of the longing for a better world and the reality of human frailty. . . Sam dissects many flavors of contemporary delusion and distraction with consummate precision
Furious and addictive . . . Sam [is] an ideal guide, rash, funny, searching, entirely unpredictable, appalled at her own entitlement and ineffectuality-drawn with a kind of skeptical fondness . . . So much contemporary fiction swims about in its own theories; what a pleasure to encounter not just ideas about the thing, but the thing itself-descriptions that irradiate the pleasure centers of the brain, a protagonist so densely, exuberantly imagined, she feels like a visitation.
Breathtaking... a strikingly intelligent book, sometimes funny, sometimes painful . . . a book that masterfully explores the pressures of being a woman in a hostile society. The characters are stubbornly defiant, and Spiotta does a wonderful job depicting [Sam and her daughter Ally] in their twin rebellions. A brilliant novel with love - never a simple subject - at its core
Exhilarating. . . Wayward reads like a burning fever dream. A virtuosic, singular and very funny portrait of a woman seeking sanity and purpose in a world gone mad
A dazzling lightning bolt of a novel which illuminates the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking moments of connection and disconnection in our lives. What begins as a vertiginous leap into hilarious rabbit holes ends as a brilliant meditation on mortality and time. How does she do it? Only Dana Spiotta knows. I'm just happy to see her work her magic
A comic, vital new novel . . . if Wayward has competition in the category of best American novel devoted to the subject of perimenopause, I am not aware of it . . . [Spiotta] is satirizing her own demographic, and with verve . . When a wife, not her husband, is the one to indulge a midlife crisis and abandon her family, her behavior is either derided as selfish or championed as subversive. A good novel shouldn't ask us to choose between those readings, and Spiotta has written a very good novel.
Wayward is a strikingly human and affecting story... gloriously cool, deftly assembled, brimming with mood... a hymn to iconoclasm, a piercing novel about what we lose and gain by when we step out of life's deepest worn grooves
Riddled with insights into aging, womanhood, and discontent, Wayward is as elegant as it is raw, and almost as funny as it is sad