Summary and book reviews of Weather by Jenny Offill

Weather

by Jenny Offill

Weather by Jenny Offill X
Weather by Jenny Offill
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2020, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2021, 224 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the author of the nationwide bestseller Dept. of Speculation--one of the New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of the Year--a shimmering tour de force about a family, and a nation, in crisis.

Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She's become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right-wingers worried about the decline of western civilization.

As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you've seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience--but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she's learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks...And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in--funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.

One

In the morning, the one who is mostly enlightened comes in. There are stages and she is in the second to last, she thinks. This stage can be described only by a Japanese word. "Bucket of black paint," it means.

I spend some time pulling books for the doomed adjunct. He has been working on his dissertation for eleven years. I give him reams of copy paper. Binder clips and pens. He is writing about a phi­losopher I have never heard of. He is minor, but instrumental, he told me. Minor but instrumental!

But last night, his wife put a piece of paper on the fridge. Is what you're doing right now making money? it said.

The man in the shabby suit does not want his fines lowered. He is pleased to contribute to our institu­tion. The blond girl whose nails are bitten to the quick stops by after lunch and leaves with a purse full of toilet paper.

I brave a theory about vaccinations and another about late capitalism. "Do you ever wish you were thirty again?" asks the lonely heart ...

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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

"How do you maintain your optimism?" That question is at the heart of Jenny Offill's Weather. Although the novel raises far more questions than it answers (and that's part of the point, after all), Lizzie's experience seems to suggest that the answer to this main question lies in understanding and forgiveness—for our families, for our neighbors, for utter strangers and, not least of all, for ourselves...continued

Full Review Members Only (616 words).

(Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Media Reviews

Washington Post
Offill is in total control here, and all the asides, jokes and Q&As reflect the fraying state of Lizzie’s mind as her concerns over the climate crisis, the Trump administration, pernicious algorithms and other man-made threats intensify...Lizzie never succumbs to hopelessness. Neither does Offill. Weather is too sharp a book to allow for pessimism or apathy.

The Guardian
Reading Weather made me grind my teeth at night, just like its narrator – but it is certainly a brilliant exemplar for the autofictional method. Offill pulls us in close in order to make us worry about things outside us; mirrors the self to show us what we are selfishly ignoring.

New York Times
Offill’s writing is shrewd on the question of whether intense psychic suffering heightens your awareness of the pain of others, or makes you blind to it...[her] fragmentary structure evokes an unbearable emotional intensity: something at the core of the story that cannot be narrated directly, by straight chronology, because to do so would be like looking at the sun. In Dept. of Speculation, that white-hot core was the heartbreak of domestic collapse. In Weather, the collapse exists on a scale at once broader and more abstract: the end of the world itself.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Lizzie's apocalyptic worries are bittersweet, but also always wry and wise. Offill offers an acerbic observer with a wide-ranging mind in this marvelous novel.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Clever and seductive...the "weather" of our days both real and metaphorical, is perfectly captured in Offill's brief, elegant paragraphs, filled with insight and humor. Offill is good company for the end of the world.

Booklist (starred review)
Revelatory...Offill, who will delight fans of Lydia Davis and Joy Williams, performs breathtaking emotional and social distillation in this pithy and stealthily resonant tale of a woman trying to keep others, and herself, from "tipping into the abyss."

Author Blurb Ocean Vuong
This is so good. We are not ready nor worthy.

Author Blurb Ben Lerner
Jenny Offill writes beautiful sentences; she is also a deft curator of silences. It's this counterpoint of eloquence and felt absence that enables her to register the emotional and political weather of our present.

Author Blurb Jia Tolentino
No one writes about the intersection of love and existential despair like Jenny Offill.

Author Blurb Sheila Heti
Jenny Offill conjures entire worlds with her steady, near-pointillist technique. One feels a whole heaving, breathing universe behind her every line. Dread, the sensation of sinking, lostness, and being cast away from any sense of safety infiltrates every interaction and private moment in this book, like ashes from the burning world she describes.

Reader Reviews

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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Climate Change Podcasts

Person Holding Smartphone with Tree Reflected in Screen Part of the plot of Jenny Offill's Weather involves the protagonist, Lizzie, answering questions posed by listeners to her former academic mentor's disaster-preparedness podcast, Hell and High Water. As issues surrounding climate change increasingly propel public conversation, real-world counterparts to this fictional podcast abound. Here is a roundup of some of the best podcasts for understanding the climate emergency.

Climate One
This weekly podcast grew out of an influential forum that brings together leaders in the fields of energy, the economy and the environment. Timely topics include climate psychology and climate and human migration; the program also profiles notable scientists and authors working and writing in these fields. ...

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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Jenny Offill

If you liked Weather, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Lost Apothecary
    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner
    Sarah Penner's debut novel The Lost Apothecary was rated 4 or 5 stars by 22 of our 23 First ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spymaster of Baghdad
    The Spymaster of Baghdad
    by Margaret Coker
    For the last 17 years, the country of Iraq has known almost constant violence and political upheaval...
  • Book Jacket: Hades, Argentina
    Hades, Argentina
    by Daniel Loedel
    Daniel Loedel's debut novel, Hades, Argentina, opens in 1986 when we meet Tomás Orillo, a young...
  • Book Jacket: Dark Horses
    Dark Horses
    by Susan Mihalic
    Dark Horses is a shocking, heart-pounding debut; it's both a coming-of-age novel and an unflinching ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Northern Reach
    by W.S. Winslow

    What is the weight of the stories we choose to tell...and the burdens of those we hide?

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner

    A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Narrowboat Summer
by Anne Youngson
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.
Win This Book!
Win Band of Sisters

Band of Sisters
by Lauren Willig

"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines…A triumph."
— Fiona Davis

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W T's Life T's H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.