Category Archives: Unbridled Books

Review: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books (May 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1609530799
  • Source: Publisher

Gavin Sasaki is a young journalist working in New York City. The economic decline has an adverse effect on the print publishing industry and in an attempt to save his career, Gavin begins “embellishing” some of his stories. Soon, his dishonesty is discovered and he’s terminated. After he’s maxed out his last credit card and his landlord evicts him from his apartment, Gavin is forced to return to his hometown of Sebastian, FL. His sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who specializes in foreclosure homes, offers him a job and a roof over his head.

Eilo tells Sebastian that while visiting a foreclosed home, she spots a girl who looks remarkably like him. They both assume the little girl is his; a decade prior his high school girlfriend, Anna, disappeared without a trace. There were rumors that she was pregnant and this evidence, a picture Eilo took of the little girl, seems to be solid proof. When asked, the woman watching the young girl confirmed that she shared the same last name with Anna.

Gavin, who always wanted to be a private investigator, begins his own investigation into the identity of this little girl. Unfortunately, all these years Anna has been on the run from a drug dealer from whom she stole a large sum of money. Queries into her location make Anna fear for her life, assuming the queries are coming from the man who is hunting her.

In The Lola Quartet, Mandel provides perhaps the richest line up of characters to date. The focus is on a group of former high school friends, each dealing with their own experiences with loss, struggling with their identities and who they want to be. Paramount is the notion that small actions, like taking a photograph of a young girl at a foreclosed home, can result in unlikely consequences. She portrays the story of this group of high school friends (the Lola Quartet) through a series of flashbacks.  Each character is tremendously flawed, stealing money, doing drugs, gambling. These details add to the credibility of each character. That, and Mandel’s spot-on examination of the demise of the housing industry, make the storyline of this novel completely believable and compelling. Additionally, the fact that it is nearly impossible to categorize this book into just one genre guarantees that it is one that will be appreciated by a wider audience of readers. Call it a thriller, an examination of the human condition, or as I refer to it, a tremendous example of fine American fiction. Highly recommended.