Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma
Published by Viking
From the publisher:
December, 2008. A heavy snowstorm is blowing through Manhattan and the economy is on the brink of collapse, but none of that matters to a handful of guests at a posh holiday party. Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past.
Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead—a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses.
It’s been quite a while since I finished Why We Came to the City but I have to tell you, this is one novel that has truly stuck with me. While on the surface it’s a novel about a group of friends experiencing life post-college, halfway through the book it turns into something completely different, something that I won’t spoil for you because it took me by complete surprise and changed the entire feel of the novel for me.
The characters are the center of the novel and they were so bright and shiny, each in their own way. I loved getting to know them as individuals and within the context of their various relationships with each other. Their friendships were complicated and through their interactions with each other, Jansma really got at the intricacies and variances within their personalities. I definitely can say that Irene stuck out to me as the brightest star, the one around whom everyone else revolved, but each character was certainly unique and unforgettable.
As I said, it has been a few months since I finished this book but the emotional impact it made on me has really stayed with me. The fact that it’s been a while since I read the book and I can still feel the way this novel made me feel at the time should say a lot about how much it affected me emotionally – let’s just say, a LOT.
I would definitely recommend Why We Came to the City. Yes, it’s a book about a group of friends living their post-college lives, a genre I’ve recently discovered I like and want more of, but it’s truly so much more than that. Even if this niche genre isn’t your thing, I definitely think there’s a lot within this novel to digest and discuss. Highly recommended.