Please read Atticus Lish

Written By: sherridaley - • •

The War for Gloria

I was certain I wasn’t going to like this book. I am seldom lucky enough to read two great books in a row, but o ye of little faith, in which case, happens to be me. The War for Gloria is a painful depiction of a young boy trying to grow up with a struggling single mother who is slowly sinking into the depths of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Corey is a tough little Boston teenager who loves his mom and tries to help, but truly, it’s all too much, and the reader will feel it. You want to be a little angry with mom, who is financially and emotionally irresponsible, but she tries so hard. And she loves Corey so much. And Corey loves her. He’s admirably devoted to her and takes on the nursing responsibilities and awkward personal care his mother needs. I learned too much about ALS.

But Lish has masterfully built two or three plots into this scenario: Corey’s odd friendship with another boy who likes to lift weights and hates to shower, and inexplicably (till later in the book) wears his athletic cup 23/7. He smells. And there’s the appearance of Leonard, Corey’s biological father, who arrives without warning and sleeps on the couch in the living room, sometimes going off to work as a security guard at Harvard and sometimes disappearing for weeks at a time. He says he’s a cop. He’s a physics geek. As is his smelly friend.

Those two characters vie for attention while Gloria weakens and Corey tries to make sense of it all. It’s all threaded together, with some disturbing clues dropped into the plots like hot wax. Lish is good at not giving it all away. In fact, when the horrible mess explodes on the page, I wasn’t sure I even read it right. I went back to re-read it to see if what I suspected might be so.
But Lish isn’t saying. Which is why I wrote Lish my fan letter telling him he amazed me and asking him to please write another book.

In the meantime, please read this one.

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