The Rest of Us: Book summary and reviews of The Rest of Us by Jessica Lott

The Rest of Us

By Jessica Lott

The Rest of Us

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Book Summary

A gorgeous literary debut about second chances, The Rest of Us is an indelible love story that explores the legacy of an affair between a young student and her older professor.

As a college student, Terry fell madly and destructively in love with Rhinehart, her famous poetry professor, tumbling into a relationship from which she never fully recovered. Now, fifteen years later, she's single, still living in the same walk-up she moved into after college, and languishing as a photographer's assistant, having long abandoned her own art. But when she stumbles upon Rhinehart's obituary online, she finds herself taking stock of the ways her life has not lived up to her youthful expectations and grows disproportionately distraught at the thought that she'll never see him again.

She is shocked when a few weeks later she bumps into Rhinehart himself: very much alive, married, and Christmas shopping at Bloomingdale's. What ensues is an intense and beautiful friendship, an unexpected second act that pushes Terry to finally reckon with the consequences of their past and the depth of her own aspirations - and to begin to come back alive as an artist and a woman. Set in New York's vibrant art world, The Rest of Us is a captivating read and is as much a love letter to the city and the struggles of its artists as it is a sharp and stirring novel of the heart.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"If the arc of the narrative is too parabolic, if the action rises too steadily, Lott's characterization, dialogue and affection for her characters is winning. Accomplished debut fiction. " - Kirkus

"Although The Rest of Us is about art, love and life, it is also about longing and belonging. Jessica writes with tremendous skill and sophistication, and the novel is truly a pleasure to read." - Ha Jin author of Waiting and War Trash

"Jessica Lott's debut is a heartbreaking work of staggering insights written in admirably crystalline prose. An intelligently-rendered May-September story of love, longing, and obsession, The Rest of Us recalls both Philip Roth's The Dying Animal and Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding, but with a compassion, a point of view, and an attention to detail that are all Lott's own." - Adam Langer author of Crossing California, and The Thieves of Manhattan

"In her debut novel, the vastly talented and wise beyond her years Jessica Lott crafts a beautifully written and clear-eyed portrait of the artist as a young woman, showing us the other side of the starry-eyed-female-coed-older-famous-college-professor love affair, while tackling the complicated issues of female identity and ambition and the need to make art and feel known." - Elissa Schappell author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls

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Jessica Lott is the author of Osin, which won Low Fidelity Press's Novella Award. She has an MA in creative writing from Boston University and an MA in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. She writes for Art21, and her art reviews have appeared in Frieze and New York Arts. She lives in New York City.

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