I once heard literature described as any book where, when asked what it’s about, the best answer is, “it’s about a boy/girl.”
Miller’s Valley is the first book I’ve read by Anna Quindlen. It’s a little hard to describe what it’s about, not because it’s bad, but because it is just a story about a girl growing up. It’s just literature. It didn’t have a particularly strong, overarching theme, except maybe to say you can’t control everything in life, and you never know what others are going through.
Miller’s Valley follows the life of Mimi Miller, the baby of the Miller family, which has lived in the valley for 200 plus years. But all that is put in jeopardy. The government wants to buy up the property and use it as extra reservoir space. This is a background story, though, and not nearly as central as I would have expected after reading the first few chapters. But perhaps this just highlights the idea that big things that go on in the background of life have more influence than we realize.
I enjoyed the book, I think it part because it is simple. It feels like real life. It feels like listening to an old woman remember her childhood (which I believe was what Quindlen was going for). There were several times I related to Mimi; being caught in the middle of family disagreements, struggling to decide on a path for the future, finding the balance between your goals and your responsibility to people who depend on you.
If there is one thing I can say about Miller’s Valley, it’s that it seems so real. It’s a change of pace from the classics that I’ve been reading through. It’s an easy read that doesn’t require focus and dedication to read, and I don’t mean that in a negative way (most people who have read classics in literature certainly know what I mean, even if you enjoy a book, reading it can sometimes be a chore).
Miller’s Valley is a reflection on life and growing up, it’s the 20-20 hindsight, connecting the dots to see how everything fit together to lead to now. It’s about finding, even when you don’t quite know you’re looking.