May 01, 2015 at 03:48 PM EDT

Early Warning

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Jane Smiley
publisher
Knopf
genre
Novel
We gave it a B+

With this sequel to Some Luck—her first installment in this planned trilogy—Smiley continues to unspool the story of an American century, one chapter per year, seen through the lens of the Langdon family. Early Warning begins in 1953, and its pages take us into the early ’80s. The family has multiplied and migrated from its home base of Iowa, and maybe because we travel far and wide, this middle installment doesn’t have the same sharp focus as the first. But Smiley’s deft narrative hopping is as impressive as ever, and her prose—whether it be about a near miss with the Jonestown massacre or a favored son dying in Vietnam—is as eloquent and poignant as ever. Here’s to part 3. B+

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