When Louisa and Bear meet at Princeton in 1975, sparks fly. Louisa is the sexually adventurous daughter of a geneticist, Bear the volatile son of a plumber. They dive headfirst into a passionate affair that will alter the course of their lives, changing how they define themselves in the years and relationships that follow. Lisa Gornick's Louisa Meets Bear is a gripping novel in interconnected stories from an author whose work "starts off like a brush fire and then engulfs and burns with fury" (The Huffington Post).
Reading Louisa Meets Bear is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, as we uncover the subtle and startling connections between new characters and the star-crossed lovers. We meet a daughter who stabs her mother when she learns the truth about her father, a wife who sees herself clearly after finding a man dead on her office floor, a mother who discovers a girl in her teenage son's bed. Each character is striking, each rendered with Gornick's trademark sympathy and psychological acuity. We follow them over the course of a half century, from San Francisco to New York City and from Guatemala to Venice, through pregnancies, tragedies, and revelations, until we return to Louisa and Bear.
With flawed and deeply human characters, and piercing insight into the lives of women, Louisa Meets Bear grapples with whether we can--or can't--choose how and whom we love.
“Extraordinary writing; I fell in love on the first page.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“Lisa Gornick is . . . one of the most perceptive, compassionate writers of fiction in America. All of that is on display in Louisa Meets Bear, her third and finest book . . . [Gornick is] committed to having her characters speak for themselves, and she doesn't force resolutions just because they'd be convenient. That's part of what makes Louisa Meets Bear such a wonderful, perfectly executed novel - it's not just the beautiful writing, it's the honesty behind it, which she commits to even when it's brutal. '[I]n the end, this is everyone's fate: our remains outstrip our lives,' one character reflects. It may not be comforting, but it's true, and it takes a writer as immensely talented and brave as Gornick to say it.” —NPR.org
“Extraordinary . . . It's rare to find a novel like this where you become equally emotionally engaged with multiple protagonists spread across multiple story lines. When you reach the final page, you'll be sad to leave Gornick's universe behind.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Gornick, a former psychotherapist, delves deeply in to the emotional repercussions of the connections we make throughout our lifetimes . . . [An] exquisite, intricately woven novel.” —Jane Ciabattari, BBC.com
“Gornick's brilliantly constructed third novel (after Tinderbox) offers a seamless series of events, spanning from 1961 to 2009, that explore the full spectrum of life in all its bizarre coincidences, tragedies, and passions. Presented as an array of interconnected stories that focus on different characters (à la A Visit from the Goon Squad), with shifting uses of first, second, and third person, Gornick's book . . . captures all the heartbreak and joy of what it is to be human.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Delicately nuanced and emotionally perceptive . . . Gornick's exploration of loneliness and loss, private connections and personal upheavals resonates with comforting familiarity and profound brilliance. Utterly human and keenly humane, her heroes and heroines are our friends and enemies, our very selves for better and worse.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Louisa meets Bear, and the lucky reader of this wonderful collection of linked stories meets an unforgettable group of characters who are connected to each other in ways that surprise and delight. Lisa Gornick has a gift for the telling moment and has achieved something lovely and unusual with this captivating book.” —Ann Packer, author of Songs Without Words
“In her intelligent, masterful stories of love and family, Lisa Gornick writes with an intensity and intimacy about women and men whose lives prove just as complex and contradictory, as passionate and as real as our own. A lovely, convincing, and moving collection.” —Michelle Huneven, author of Blame and Off Course
“Lisa Gornick's new book is a kind of cat's cradle narrative, a series of intricate, beautifully-made stories linking a group of people through time and place. Gornick has a wonderfully observant eye and a deeply compassionate heart, and the book radiates with energy, intelligence and empathy.” —Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta
“Lisa Gornick detonates moments of loss, lust, and love in Louisa Meets Bear. Readers will marvel at the smoke rising from these explosive pages, as fireworks set off in one character's bedroom smolder on another's roof. A deeply felt book, written with tremendous insight and grace.” —Mary Kay Zuravleff, author of Man Alive!
“Achingly eloquent . . . Discovering what binds-and divides-these characters is one of this volume's many rewards.” —MORE
“Gornick's collection creates a forensic puzzle, inviting readers to assemble the police-room board of photos and thumbtacks and connective threads . . . Each story opens itself entirely, unfolds slowly, attending to itself and the characters it inhabits, absorbing the reader in the narrative itself...Gornick handles her characters the way a therapist treats her patients-with empathy and insight. She studies their wounds and calamity, then nudges them out of harm's way.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Gornick's fiction is not only worth reading, but worth studying too. You can learn a lot about writing from her and even more about life.” —The Huffington Post
“In Louisa Meets Bear . . . Gornick puts her brains (and considerable writing chops) on full display. [Her] therapist's compassion and intuition is especially evident in these 10 stories... Whether it's the pregnant daughter and her distant mother in 'Instructions to Participant,' or that same adopted child traveling through Italy with her parents in 'Misto,' you'll find a kindred soul with whom you can connect in Louisa Meets Bear.” —Bustle
“Gornick's terrific new novel-in-stories... is a seriously engaging book-one filled with fleshed-out, dynamic characters who pass in and out of each other's lives over the course of decades . . . [She] has a gift for capturing disparate voices and moods and threading them together into an intelligent, sometimes fraught tapestry.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“Readers will find themselves identifying with the struggling men and women in this cleverly linked collection of short stories” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“This vivid portrait of a family unravelling is perfect for book clubs.” —People (four stars) on Tinderbox