review: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels #3)Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stayed up much too late finishing this book — got to a point where I needed to see things to their glorious, devastating end. Those moments when you stay up late finishing a novel are so delicious. All day I wanted to return to this world but realized I have to get the final book in the series!

This is the most exciting book in regards to Elena (Lenu). In the past two books, it was easy to identify with Elena but you couldn’t help but be drawn to Lila, her charismatic personality, her often unfathomable decisions. In this book, Elena emerges more as a character (even though she’s been the narrator all along, of course). She has the same level of imposter syndrome and jealousy, but her anger is ramped up, she is more self-centered and vain than before, and her boredom begins to make her reckless. She gives voice to so many secret, unspoken thoughts many of us have had but are ashamed to voice. All of it is wonderful stuff. The way Ferrante returns and returns to the same childhood stories and traumas, analyzing and reanalyzing them, as another reviewer points out, is sheer brilliance.

But best of all, here is Elena making terrible, terrible decisions. Oh, Lenu, what are you doing? And please keep doing it — because it is wonderful to read!

View all my reviews

about me

I direct the writing center at Tufts University’s Academic Resource Center, where I train both undergraduate and graduate writing tutors. In my spare time, I work on my own various writing projects. I hold a PhD in English from Tufts University and an MA from Simmons College. I live in Medford, Massachusetts with my wonderful husband and three cats. My favorite hobby is reading novels, and my second favorite hobby is writing Goodreads reviews of those novels.

You can contact me at Kristina.Aikens@tufts.edu.