Atonement by Ian McEwan
Briony is just the age to be confused about a lot of things. As a precocious preteen, she wants to be noticed by the adults, maybe even treated as an equal. She especially idolizes her older sister, who is just now realizing she may have deeper feelings for Robbie, the housekeeper’s son. Briony’s spot as both the budding young woman and the cute little one are usurped by her cousins, an older girl and younger twins. When the twins run away, everyone goes out to search, and Briony makes a huge moral blunder. The rest of the book deals with the ramifications of this choice, stretching into World War II and the adulthood of everyone present.
This book is on a number of “great novels” lists, but I wasn’t impressed. There are three main “episodes” in the book: the opening, set when Briony is very young; Robbie in WWII France, and Briony as a student nurse during the war. Of these, only the last held my attention; the first moved way too slow, and the second seemed pointless in terms of the plot of the novel. The characters weren’t at all sympathetic either. Briony was too spoiled and selfish for me to want to spend page time with her, and Robbie was (understandably) messed up and bitter. 3/5*