Review: The Nix by Nathan Hill

Review: The Nix by Nathan Hill

It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paint Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.

To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye’s losses but also his own lost love and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother and himself.

Wow guys. I haven’t had a book I’ve loved this much in what feels like forever. I’d seen The Nix around a lot last year, and based on the cover (we’ve all done it) it looked politically charged and really not for me. It wasn’t until Max at Well Done Books started comparing reading this book to The Goldfinch that I knew I had to pick it up. The Goldfinch might be my favorite book of all time, still, years after reading it.

My expectations were still relatively low, but as soon as I read the prologue, I knew I was going to love it. There have been exceptions, but I almost always know within a few pages how I’m going to feel about a book, and it was definitely the case with The Nix. I loved it as much when I started as I did when I closed it for the final time, and I’m still thinking about it a week later.

The book weaves in and out in time, from 2011, where Samuel is an unhappy college professor, to the late ’80s when his mother leaves him, and his mother’s history in the 1960s. Every word and character felt purposeful and I never wanted it to end. After finishing the book, I found out it took Nathan Hill 10 years to write, and it made so much sense. Of course it took that long. You know who else takes 10 years to crank out a massive masterpiece? Donna Tartt. Also, it was hilarious. The political commentary, the whip-smart dialogue, had me laughing all the way through.

I’d recommend this book for anyone looking for a really immersive, long read, and I would go in without looking too much into it. I went in blind, and it took me a week to read and I loved every second of it. Definitely for fans of Donna Tartt, something I have never said or thought before.

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  1. I literally have not wanted to pick up this book one time since it came out…until reading your review! A) super long and heavy books have been hard for me lately and B) not in the politically charged stuff these days. But, wow, you made me really want to read this one. And, I love Donna Tartt. Adding to my backlist TBR…which means I may get to it a year from now. haha.