Privilege. The combination of finely written prose and psychological insight elevate J. Courtney Sullivan’s novel titled, Friends and Strangers, from domestic drama to literary fiction that encapsulates our current time and place. After two decades in New York City, protagonist and journalist Elisabeth moves with her husband and child to the rural town where his parents live. Many readers will identify with Elisabeth staying linked to her Brooklyn Moms group, while she steps slowly into the Moms group in her new community. Sullivan touches all the right nerves when it comes to motherhood. She also explores significant issues about privilege in this novel, and the ways in which insensitivity to the reality of privilege can inhibit the ability of one to see what other lives are like. Is the relationship between Elisabeth and her young babysitter friendship? After the babysitter finds a mentor in Elisabeth’s father-in-law, what does that mean for relationships all around? Fans of finely written literary fiction, especially mothers, are those readers most likely to enjoy this novel.
Rating: Five-star (I love it)