• Mo Reynolds

Unreliable Narrators


It seems a new trend these days for writers to craft their novels with several narrators taking turns. I like the trend and I especially like how Towles does it because you get to see the exact same events through a few different lenses. But, as the novel carries you through this ten day journey through unexpected adventures, some of those lenses start to get a little foggy.


I love it when authors do this. . . slowly make you start questioning the reliability of the person telling you the story. As I finished the book today (wow--this ending--wow) I started to think about this fancy term "unreliable narrator" that was tossed around in grad school and suddenly a thought struck me: I am sometimes a very unreliable narrator to myself.


Take just a few seconds and I'm guessing this will land with you too. We tell ourselves stories all the time, all day long. And as for me and my brain, I don't always tell stories that are true. I'm not trying to lie to myself. I just do it, alot.


You just aren't the kind of person that's good at __________.

Wow, you look really awful in that picture.

You've let down your kids in so many ways.

If you'd been a better mom, your kids would/n't ___________

(Insert mythical perfect woman's name here) wouldn't take a nap just because she's sick. Suck it up and go knit something.


As I wrapped up my journey on The Lincoln Highway I started to question the narrator in my head and wonder if perhaps I should challenge her a bit more, examine the evidence a bit more thoroughly, and seek out the truth with more dedication and love. Just because a thought comes into my mind doesn't necessarily mean its true, kind, or real. It just means it is there. And it doesn't have to stay there.


The Lincoln Highway is this fantastic blend of history, wit, fantasy, and heroism. The ending left me totally flabbergasted, which is a delightful turn when an author can land it. It is a slow burning book, and absolutely worth the ride. Just don't believe everything Duchess says.


And the same goes for those voices in your head. You're doing just fine.

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