Conversations with Friends, by Sally Roony


Roony has been hailed as the voice of a new generation, and rightly so, but that doesn’t capture the full extent of what she accomplished with Conversations with Friends.

To claim that title requires capturing the myriad hopes and anxieties—especially the anxieties—that entail early adulthood in the Information Age. And Roony accomplishes that, giving not just each character but each interaction, each gesture, its own rich and tangled psychological backstory. In that way, Conversations with Friends is indeed a very modern tale.

But this modern story is also imbued with the timeless, the gripping and delicate, intricate and elaborate ways one person relates to another. Each personality is its own solar system, but is somehow connected to the neighboring galaxies of other people and their quirks, their problems, their fears, and their hopes. It’s one of the great paradoxes of life that we are isolated so completely from other people, and at the same time so inextricably linked. Roony captures that beautifully.

If that was the extent of Roony’s talent, though, this book might make for rich, but ultimately dull reading. Thankfully, Roony also has an exquisite sense of timing and pace, and the book reads like a page-turning thriller. It’s difficult to put down, and I will carry these characters with me for awhile.