BookBrowse Reviews Zorrie by Laird Hunt

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Laird Hunt

Zorrie by Laird Hunt X
Zorrie by Laird Hunt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2021, 176 pages

    Nov 2022, 176 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Nichole Brazelton
Buy This Book

About this Book



The timeless story of a woman, a town and the love that flourishes in both across a lifetime.

In Zorrie, Laird Hunt takes readers through decades of his main character's struggles, joys and dreams — both realized and sacrificed. Orphaned in early 20th-century Indiana, when both her parents succumbed to diphtheria, Zorrie was left to be cared for by an aunt who her father had described as having "drunk too deeply from the cup of bitterness." An emotionally cold and intensely demanding woman more interested in raising a laborer than a child, Zorrie's aunt never allowed her niece to have fun, or even mourn the death of her family.

Despite her guardian's cruelty, Zorrie grows into a kind and hopeful young woman who is determined to find the best in any situation. When her aunt dies, leaving her nothing — not even the home she was trained to meticulously maintain, she is forced to quickly find a way to make a living in the middle of the Great Depression. Freed from emotionless days of torment and instilled with an indelible work ethic, she takes whatever odd jobs she can, until she finally lands in Ottawa, Illinois, at the Radium Dial company. She labors for a while as a "ghost girl" (see Beyond the Book), painting radium on clocks. She is more reserved than her counterparts at the dial company, but her sweet-natured personality endears her to the other women. It's not long before she learns how to cut loose and enjoy fun and friendships with them.

Eventually, Zorrie feels herself pulled back to Indiana. Upon returning to her hometown, and finding everything quite changed, she is once again jobless, homeless and alone. Owing to her good nature and willingness to work, she is taken in by a kind old couple, given a room and introduced to their son, Harold. After a brief courtship, she and Harold marry. Zorrie experiences a period of great joy with her husband, and allows the sorrows of her past to fade. However, she soon finds herself visited by a series of losses and heartbreaks that leave her to continue making her way through the world on her own, albeit with the help of friends and strangers alike. In the end, it is her indomitable will, mental fortitude and warm memories of those she's loved that carry her and enable her to find peace.

In just 176 pages, Hunt gives us the story of a life, a place and an era that is remarkably similar to our present moment — as it deals with an intersection of personal and social issues relevant to today including unemployment, loss of life and daily uncertainty. The novel touches upon feelings of isolation, a longing for past joys and regret over choices made. Readers will be able to relate to Zorrie's struggles, and will feel a sense of familiarity with situations of hardship, grief and perseverance through the unknown. Most importantly, those struggles occur against a backdrop of perpetual hope and the will of a woman who never allows life to take away her kindness, compassion, grace and determined spirit.

Hunt's language is simple, at times almost too sparse, yet elegant and filled with intensity. He presents a story that is concise but captivating and emotionally expansive. The speed with which he introduces and ends intersecting storylines can be a bit much, and Zorrie might have been well served with an additional 75 pages. Still, this quiet, unassuming story will quickly take hold of you and not let go.

The author's razor-sharp prose allows the novel to do all the work for readers and gives Zorrie the room she needs, as a character, to really shine. His ability to create both melancholy and joy with such understated writing is truly a wonder. An encapsulated look at the triumph of the human spirit and the power of love, Zorrie is the perfect book for a weekend read in the final cold weeks of winter.

Reviewed by Nichole Brazelton

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2021, and has been updated for the November 2022 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Ghost Girls (Radium Girls)


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Zorrie, try these:

  • The Night Always Comes jacket

    The Night Always Comes

    by Willy Vlautin

    Published 2022

    About this book

    Award-winning author Willy Vlautin explores the impact of trickle-down greed and opportunism of gentrification on ordinary lives in this scorching novel that captures the plight of a young woman pushed to the edge as she fights to secure a stable future for herself and her family.

  • The Paris Hours jacket

    The Paris Hours

    by Alex George

    Published 2021

    About this book

    More by this author

    Told over the course of a single day in 1927, The Paris Hours takes four ordinary people whose stories, told together, are as extraordinary as the glorious city they inhabit.

We have 4 read-alikes for Zorrie, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Laird Hunt
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Red Memory
    Red Memory
    by Tania Branigan
    Tania Branigan's Red Memory is an astounding and often harrowing study of Mao's China. A lead writer...
  • Book Jacket: The Postcard
    The Postcard
    by Anne Berest
    Anne Berest's The Postcard — with an elegant translation from the French by Tina Cover &...
  • Book Jacket
    by Jennifer Saint
    Few cultures in history mastered the art of tragedy quite like the ancient Greeks. And very few ...
  • Book Jacket: Salvage This World
    Salvage This World
    by Michael Farris Smith
    In the near-future universe of Michael Farris Smith's Salvage This World, life-threatening ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Little Italian Hotel
    by Phaedra Patrick

    Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

Y S M Back A I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.