Book Review: One American Robin by E.A. Mann

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4/5 Stars.

It’s always pretty impressive when a man writes a first-person female narrative and pulls it off well. Especially in a debut novel.

Robin, the 25-year-old protagonist, is super likable. She’s flawed, self-aware, funny and genuinely interesting. She tries to do the right thing — for herself, her father suffering from dementia, her family, and the other folks in her life — and more often than not, she fails. And yet we root for her throughout this quarter-life crisis.

As Robin comes to terms with the uncertainty of her father’s dementia and the stagnancy of her own life, she becomes involved with her mysterious neighbor, Corey, who rarely ever leaves the house he’s singularly focused on fixing up. The two embark on a strange relationship that’s less about romance and more about inadvertently fulfilling each other’s unmet needs. A symbiosis of sorts that facilitates self-growth.

One American Robin reads like those quiet indie movies with quirky protagonists and dysfunctional families and unconventional relationships. It’s sad. It’s funny. It’s redemptive without being sentimental, suggesting that there are times when people, like houses, are in desperate need of repair—and reminding us that that’s okay. We are only human, after all.

This is a fast, engaging read, peppered with dry, witty insights and observations alongside solemn, earnest truths. Robin’s voice is distinct and memorable. Whenever I put this book down, I found myself thinking about her and wondering what would happen next — hoping for the best, as if she were a friend.

 
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