Louisa Meets Bear
Chosen as a Fresh Pick by Oprah.com
“Extraordinary…When you reach the final page,
you’ll be sad to leave Gornick’s universe behind.” —Entertainment Weekly, ‘A’
“Brilliantly constructed…” —Publishers Weekly, ★ starred review
“Profound brilliance…” —Booklist, ★ starred review
When Louisa and Bear meet at Princeton in 1975, sparks fly. Louisa is the sexually adventurous daughter of a geneticist, Bear the volatile son of a plumber. They dive headfirst into a passionate affair that will alter the course of their lives, changing how they define themselves in the years and relationships that follow. Lisa Gornick’s Louisa Meets Bear is a gripping novel in interconnected stories from an author whose work “starts off like a brush fire and then engulfs and burns with fury” (The Huffington Post).
Reading Louisa Meets Bear is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, as we uncover the subtle and startling connections between new characters and the star-crossed lovers. We meet a daughter who stabs her mother when she learns the truth about her father, a wife who sees herself clearly after finding a man dead on her office floor, a mother who discovers a girl in her teenage son’s bed. Each character is striking, each rendered with Gornick’s trademark sympathy and psychological acuity. We follow them over the course of a half century, from San Francisco to New York City and from Guatemala to Venice, through pregnancies, tragedies, and revelations, until we return to Louisa and Bear.
With characters as flawed and deeply human as those of Elizabeth Strout, and with Alice Munro’s gift for piercing insight into the lives of women, Louisa Meets Bear grapples with whether we can–or can’t–choose how and whom we love.
Praise & Reviews
Extraordinary writing; I fell in love on the first page.
—Library Journal (Barbara’s Picks)
One of the most perceptive, compassionate writers of fiction in America.
–Michael Schaub, NPR
Gornick’s brilliantly constructed third novel (after Tinderbox) offers a seamless series of events, spanning from 1961 to 2009, that explore the full spectrum of life in all its bizarre coincidences, tragedies, and passions. (At) its heart is the torrid relationship between Louisa and Bear that, decades later, comes full circle in a remarkably revelatory way. Gornick captures all the heartbreak and joy of what it is to be human.
–★STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly
Delicately nuanced and emotionally perceptive…Gornick’s exploration of loneliness and loss, private connections and personal upheavals resonates with comforting familiarity and profound brilliance. Utterly human and keenly humane, her heroes and heroines are our friends and enemies, our very selves for better and worse.
–★STARRED REVIEW, Booklist
When you reach the final page, you’ll be sad to leave Gornick’s universe behind.
–“A”, Sara Vilkomerson, Entertainment Weekly
The way people misapprehend each other; the way they steel themselves to wound or betray; their awkward, touching efforts to reunite, if only briefly: These are some of the dynamics Gornick explores in her achingly eloquent collection of linked stories. Discovering what binds—and divides—these characters is one of this volume’s many rewards.
–Cathleen Medwick, More, June 2015
Gornick, a former psychotherapist, delves deeply into the emotional repercussions of the connections we make throughout our lifetimes…Gornick’s exquisite, intricately woven novel spans a half century. The surprising conclusion reminds us how often the gifts in life grow from the “soil of sadness”.
What does grown-up love really look like? What choices and trade-offs do we make?…What’s most notable is the way these characters grow and move on, not always getting exactly what they want, but finding enough of what they need.
–Dawn Raffel, Oprah’s Book-Club Suggestions
Gornick’s collection creates a forensic puzzle, inviting readers to assemble the police-room board of photos and thumbtacks and connective threads…Each story opens itself entirely, unfolds slowly, attending to itself and the characters it inhabits, absorbing the reader in the narrative itself…Gornick handles her characters the way a therapist treats her patients–with empathy and insight. She studies their wounds and calamity, then nudges them out of harm’s way.
–Cecily Sailer, The Dallas Morning News
Gornick’s terrific new novel-in-stories…is a seriously engaging book—one filled with fleshed-out, dynamic characters who pass in and out of each other’s lives over the course of decades…[She] has a gift for capturing disparate voices and moods and threading them together into an intelligent, sometimes fraught tapestry.”
–Holly Smith, Washington Independent Review of Books
Lisa Gornick is rapidly staking a claim to being one of our best writers. With her last novel, Tinderbox (2013), and now this collection of linked stories, she has served notice that she is a writer of consequence.
–Bill Wolfe, ReadHerLikeAnOpenBook
Gornick’s fiction is not only worth reading, but worth studying too. You can learn a lot about writing from her and even more about life.
–Rochelle Jewel Shapiro, The Huffington Post
Enter, a new discovery by me, Lisa Gornick, author of the linked story collection, Louisa Meets Bear. While Louisa Meets Bear compels as both parts of a whole and a sum of all its parts, the book deserves a full-blown review of its own.
–Jodi Paloni, The Quivering Pen
Readers will find themselves identifying with the struggling men and women in this cleverly linked collection of short stories…
Searching for a solid book of short stories? Search no more. This beautifully written collection tells tales of the Ivy League that you can easily lose yourself in.
–Alisa Swidler, Town& Country
In Louisa Meets Bear . . . Gornick puts her brains (and considerable writing chops) on full display. [Her] therapist’s compassion and intuition is especially evident in these 10 stories.
–Caroline Goldstein, Bustle
Lisa Gornick’s unblinkingly downbeat, marvelous Louisa Meets Bear forms…a design so finely and knottily thought out that unravling it is both a pleasure and a sadness.
–Celia McGee, The Center for Fiction, Junior Edition: New Books for Younger Readers
In Lisa Gornick’s third novel, Louisa Meets Bear, she takes a poignant trip through the psyche of numerous characters whose lives interconnect in some way, shape or form . . . What is great about this novel is that each chapter can be read as an individual story, but because of the entwining narratives, it comes together to create one cohesive piece . . . With her style of creating poignant relationships and journeys, and her effortless characterization, Louisa Meets Bear is a novel in which it’s all about the path that takes you to the end, not the end itself.
–Alexis Helms, The Roanoke Times
Gornick is able to weave in themes of desire, class,death and family for a truly striking read.
—The Riveter Magazine, Books to Read Summer 2015
A compassionate and infinite understanding of the human condition of loss…
Gornick describes all of the dark spaces and the buried secrets within the psyche of each character, allowing them slowly to come to light as she delineates the tangled webs woven among even the most casual acquaintances. Those who enjoy literary novels of psychological portent will relish this title.
Each of these exquisitely crafted stories is a stand-along gem; read together, characters interlock in ways that continuously surprise. Gornick infuses this narrative of love, loss, and yearning with a nuanced complexity that perhaps only a former psychotherapist could bring to her writing.
–Susan Coll, “Staff Pick,” Politics & Prose Bookstore
Louisa meets Bear, and the lucky reader of this wonderful collection of linked stories meets an unforgettable group of characters who are connected to each other in ways that surprise and delight. Lisa Gornick has a gift for the telling moment and has achieved something lovely and unusual with this captivating book.
–Ann Packer, author of The Children’s Crusade and The Dive from Clausen’s Pier
Lisa Gornick’s new book is a kind of cat’s cradle narrative, a series of intricate, beautifully-made stories linking a group of people through time and place. Gornick has a wonderfully observant eye and a deeply compassionate heart, and the book radiates with energy, intelligence and empathy.
–Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta and Cost
Lisa Gornick detonates moments of loss, lust, and love in Louisa Meets Bear. Readers will marvel at the smoke rising from these explosive pages, as fireworks set off in one character’s bedroom smolder on another’s roof. A deeply felt book, written with tremendous insight and grace.
–Mary Kay Zuravleff, author of Man Alive! and The Bowl is Already Broken
In her intelligent, masterful stories of love and family, Lisa Gornick writes with an intensity and intimacy about women and men whose lives prove just as complex and contradictory, as passionate and as real as our own. A lovely, convincing, and moving collection.
–Michelle Huneven, author of Blame and Off Course
“Best” Lists and Awards
Fresh Pick for Your Book Club by Oprah.com
Finalist The 2016 Paterson Fiction Prize
The Story Prize Long List for Collections Published in 2015
Washington Independent Review of Books, 13 Best Novels of the Year:
BBC, 2015’s Best Beach Reads
Bustle, Best Books That Are the Perfect Summer Escape
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Summer Books: 10 Novels Not to Miss
The Quivering Pen, 2015 Best of the Shorts
THE A LIST, Town and Country, July 23, 2015
ReadHerLikeAnOpenBook, My Favorite Books of 2015