Some stories draw you in from the outset, enveloping you in the complicated lives of deeply flawed characters. Every once in a while, those stories strike a chord with you, holding a mirror to your face and showing you a side of yourself you’ve forgotten. For me, Our Little World is one of those books.
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Synopsis of Our Little World
Bee’s always felt like an outsider, more of a tomboy than her girly-girl younger sister, Audrina. They used to be close, but Bee’s been feeling left out a lot lately. So, when Audrina gives their neighbor, Sally, her beloved charm bracelet, Bee gets angry. How dare she? Audrina knew Bee always admired the bracelet. And what is a four-year-old going to do with a charm bracelet? Is her younger sister no longer her friend?
These are just a few of the many questions swirling around Bee’s head when they visit the local lakeside beach one hot summer afternoon. She’s distracted, focused on her own internal drama, and not paying attention to her surroundings. Before she even realizes what’s happened, Sally is missing! But when Bee spots one of the little gold charms from the bracelet Sally was wearing sparkling in the sunlit sand, she pockets the prize rather than point it out to the police.
Over the next few months, Bee becomes more popular than ever. She was THERE the day Sally went missing. For the first time in her life, she’s popular. Now the tables have turned, and Audrina is yesterday’s news. But that all changes when Audrina suddenly gets sick. Once again she’s the center of attention, pushing Bee to the back burner yet again.
Alone and angry, Bee begins to lash out. She’s torn between wanting to protect and care for her sister and wanting to outshine her. But when Bee receives some dreaded news, she knows she’s taken so much for granted. Everything changes in the blink of an eye, turning their little world upside down.
My Thoughts on Our Little World
Our Little World is a beautiful story of love, loss, and sisterhood. It’s a coming-of-age story filled with nostalgia for simpler times when trouble was only beginning to encroach into our day-to-day lives. Looking back now the 80s seem like a dream world. No cell phones, no Internet, and no real reason to come in before dark during the summer. Life was so small but so rich. And Karen Winn captures the essence of 1985 perfectly in the pages of this book.
Little did I know when I picked up this book, it was exactly what I needed to read. My own relationship with my sister is once again playing a role in my daily life as we work together to care for my ailing mother. The parallels between my relationship with my sister and the relationship between Bee and Audrina were undeniable. Best friends one minute, enemies the next. There’s nothing like having a sister, and Winn’s book highlights the push-and-pull of these dynamics in a heartbreakingly authentic way.
Tragedy and loss are at the center of this book, so be prepared for a heavy read. Describing Our Little World as a mystery or thriller completely omits the best part of the book: the relationships. As I said in my July reading wrap-up on TikTok, I’d describe Our Little World as literary fiction rather than a thriller/mystery, though there is a mystery at the heart of the plot. The disappearance of Sally triggers a chain reaction in Bee’s life that defines the rest of her life. The guilt she feels is palpable, reminding readers what we all know to be true. Life is complicated.
My Rating for Our Little World
What a wonderful book! Our Little World truly is a work of nostalgic art. This one will stick with me for a while. With something for everyone, Our Little World could be your new favorite read, or it could be a turn off. I found it compelling, but if you dislike blended genre books it might not be for you. I encourage you to give this one a shot. It just might be the mirror you need to hold for a while. Special thanks to Dutton Books for the advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion!
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