You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt

66%

5 Critic Reviews

The problem is, Holt never pulls the narrative strings tightly enough. I kept wanting more: more on Jenny's mysterious father, more on Sarah's dislocation...Holt's hurried and imprecise language suggests a writer rushing to finish this book.
-LA Times

Synopsis


Sarah Zuckerman and Jennifer Jones are best friends in an upscale part of Washington, D.C., in the politically charged 1980s.  Sarah is the shy, wary product of an unhappy home: her father abandoned the family to return to his native England; her agoraphobic mother is obsessed with fears of nuclear war.  Jenny is an all-American girl who has seemingly perfect parents.  With Cold War rhetoric reaching a fever pitch in 1982, the ten-year-old girls write letters to Soviet premier Yuri Andropov asking for peace.  But only Jenny's letter receives a response, and Sarah is left behind when her friend accepts the Kremlin's invitation to visit the USSR and becomes an international media sensation.  The girls' icy relationship still hasn't thawed when Jenny and her parents die tragically in a plane crash in 1985.

Ten years later, Sarah is about to graduate from college when she receives a mysterious letter from Moscow suggesting that Jenny's death might have been a hoax.  She sets off to the former Soviet Union in search of the truth, but the more she delves into her personal Cold War history, the harder it is to separate facts from propaganda.

You Are One of Them is a taut, moving debut about the ways in which we define ourselves against others and the secrets we keep from those who are closest to us.  In her insightful forensic of a mourned friendship, Holt illuminates the long lasting sting of abandonment and the measures we take to bring back those we have lost.
 

About Elliott Holt

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Elliott Holt's short fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Guernica, and Bellevue Literary Review. She won a 2011 Pushcart Prize and is the runner-up of the 2011 PEN Emerging Writers Award. A graduate of the MFA program at Brooklyn College, where she won the Himan Brown Award, she has received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop and Yaddo. She is a former contributing editor at One Story magazine and a former copywriter, who has worked at advertising agencies in Moscow, London, and New York. She currently resides in her hometown of Washington, D.C.
 
Published May 30, 2013 by Penguin Books. 305 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for You Are One of Them
All: 5 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Maggie Shipstead on May 24 2013

...“You Are One of Them” is a hugely absorbing first novel from a writer with a fluid, vivid style and a rare knack for balancing the pleasure of entertainment with the deeper gratification of insight. More, please.

Read Full Review of You Are One of Them | See more reviews from NY Times

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Tobias Carroll on May 25 2013

...it’s a reflection of a haunted period of history, of lessons learned in doublespeak that may well have rooted themselves too deeply in our collective minds for us to fully recover.

Read Full Review of You Are One of Them | See more reviews from Star Tribune

LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Alexander Nazaryan on Jun 06 2013

The problem is, Holt never pulls the narrative strings tightly enough. I kept wanting more: more on Jenny's mysterious father, more on Sarah's dislocation...Holt's hurried and imprecise language suggests a writer rushing to finish this book.

Read Full Review of You Are One of Them | See more reviews from LA Times

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Aug 02 2013

Holt builds enough suspense to reduce Sarah — and us — to a state of hand-wringing agitation, her appealingly downbeat style maintained right through to the novel’s artful, satisfying end.

Read Full Review of You Are One of Them | See more reviews from Toronto Star

LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Alexander Nazaryan on Jun 07 2013

"You Are One of Them," has finally arrived, and it turns out to be an odd hybrid of bildungsroman and thriller, borrowing as much from the coming-of-age stories of Judy Blume as it does from the spy novels of John le Carré. The result is a book that, like its teenage heroines, does not quite know what it wants to be.

Read Full Review of You Are One of Them | See more reviews from LA Times

Reader Rating for You Are One of Them
68%

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