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September 19, 2021

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Icon book review: The Plot

Review by Robert McCool

"The Plot" (ISBN 978-1250790767) is all about the extenuating circumstances of birth.

Jean Hanff Korelitz's ("The Devil and Webster") new novel is a book within a book. It is all about how mothers and daughters come to reckon with each other when the girl grows up and wants to leave the parent's home. It is all about the circumstances around babies not wished to be born. It's a scathing examination of a mother's, and daughter's, needs in life and how to get them.

And that is the substantial plot from a purloined idea.

That is the basis for the real story that comes into a teacher's life from one of his students when the student dies. The teacher, one Jacob Finch Bonner, knows that the student's plot is a good one, enviable in the extreme with said plot too good to let die along with the student. No one knows about the story's existence, how it was keep close to Evan Parker's chest.

And so a novel is born where no story had been, or where it's going to go.

It is a smashing success, going to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. With millions sold and a movie in sight it's everything Jacob has wanted in life.

Until a email comes to him, saying that the story is not his to be told. "TalentedTom" starts a campaign that increasingly comes close to saying where the plot came from, and how Jacob stole it from Evan Parker. Jacob is worried enough to go to where ever Evan's short life takes him. So the story grows into a fruition of similar events that took place in the manuscript, tangling details from the past into the present.

Jacob meets a wonderful woman at a reading in Seattle and they come together as a seemingly happy accident. Anna Williams moves to New York and they make a happy home. Except for Jacob's Internet attacker. Beside himself, he goes back on the road. All he finds is that the story he has written is true, with death, unfortunate births, and more death with disappointments in a family following along with the plot of his book. Thus life follows art.

The final pages of the story are a big surprise, with a plot twist that ends with a birth of another nature. You'll never guess who TalentedTom really is.

I liked this book, and the happy hours of reading that it gave me. It kept me ignorant until the plot ended where everything comes together.

You'll find this novel at your library, and it's worth it to ask for it by name.