Thursday, September 13, 2012

True Believers by Kurt Andersen

True Believers by Kurt Andersen
Published by Random House ISBN 9781400067206
Hardcover, $27, 448 pages


True Believers is a novel recounting the life of Karen Hollander, a well respected lawyer, political pundit and a possible candidate for the Supreme Court. She and her two compatriots, Chuck and Alex, grow up loving the James Bond novels and recreating secret missions. They attend Harvard together during the turbulent late 1960s and get involved in political protests, one of which turns into something more dangerous.

Hollander is going to write her memoir and she wants to include the incident that changed her life, but first she wants to reach out to her friends to let them know what she is planning to do. She has held various government jobs, received national security clearances and can't understand how what she and her friends did was never uncovered during those searches. She enlists the aid of a sometime lover, a man who is in the intelligence community, to find out what the feds know about the incident and why it has been covered up. Karen's relationship with Stewart and their conversations are the liveliest parts of the book, and I picked a lot of cool lingo from Stewart.

I also liked the relationship between Karen and her granddaughter Waverley, but Karen's other relationships (with her children, parents, siblings and Chuck and Alex) seemed a little flat to me; they were not as interesting.

The author teases the reader with the actual mystery incident, which we do eventually find out. I think people who were of that age in the late 1960s may better understand this story having gone through those turbulent times first-hand. I was just a child when the '60s ended, so I couldn't really relate to the things that happened to Karen and her friends.

Although the book clocks in at 438 pages, I don't feel like I know Karen Hollander as well as I should. I wanted to like it much more than I did.


rating 3 of 5

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