Briefly Very Beautiful by Roz Dineen [6/10]

Dystopic fiction is running rampant and logically so. A debut novel, Briefly Very Beautiful is a claustrophobic, intense tale of a young mother with three young children, two of them brought to her by a husband now working as a medic in an overseas war. The world is steadily and catastrophically breaking down, from infrastructure to the American political order, and the air is becoming dire. The author writes heartfelt, close-up prose in support of this narrative of a human world gone mad and awry, told from a dense domestic viewpoint. When her city threatens to become unlivable, the woman sets off with her charges to search for sanctuary with her family-in-law, first in a gated estate, then over a border to a secluded property. Halfway through the engrossing story, the focus shifts to a story of familial dysfunction, hidden evils, and domestic betrayal, and I must confess I found the intricacies of treacherous human groupings and the hero’s responses, to be less fascinating than the background breakdown. Overall, this is an engaging, worthwhile read.

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