Takeaway: Probably best suited for bored winter moments
I recently read Three Junes after it was recommended to me by several avid readers with glowing recommendations. I was a bit hesitant at first because this book is one of the “multiple perspectives” books which, at times, I find exhausting to read. This book has many themes, which include, but are not limited to, infidelity, fertility problems, aesthetic pleasures, extreme family discord, and most prominently, HIV/AIDS contraction and symptom management. Those are many differing and serious themes, even for a somewhat long book.
The problem with Three Junes is not that it is badly written. It tends to drag towards the middle but has some creative prose. The main issue I had with this bestseller is character development- specifically the question of WHY? Why does the main character engage in these activities? Why does he/she act this way? Why did he/she react this way? These questions never really get answered, for any of the three main characters (or main perspectives aka the three Junes/summers of the main characters), leaving the reader confused and feeling like the characters are one dimensional, and to be honest, stereotypical. Fenno, a gay book shop owning main character, feels especially rudderless. The decisions, or more accurately, his lack of decision and apparent apathy for life made him difficult to connect with on any level.
The author also makes the mistake of including too many characters in the novel- an emotionally distant mother, rambunctious brothers with quirky wives, an artist met on a trip to Greece, a lover, a critic dying of AIDS, and his social worker mother–it’s easy to get confused! Perhaps the reason the story seems one dimensional is because the author did not take the time to fully develop the main characters and stretched herself too much with the background characters.
In sum, this book is the kind that is easy to pick up, start, begin again, forget about it, start, and finally finish. While somewhat enjoyable, save it for when you have enough time to dedicate to finishing it. A beach read, this is not…..probably best suited for bored winter moments.