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Book Review - Nomadland

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I'll start from the end: if you are interested at all in contemporary culture in the US, you need to read this book.

A couple of weeks ago, as you may remember, I had a breakthrough with the novel I'm currently working on. There's a character who was supposed to be a relatively minor character, but following my breakthrough, he's going to be a much more significant character. I wanted this character to be homeless, for all sorts of reasons, but that didn't feel quite right. After I realised that he's going to be a significant character and that I'm going to have to research the heck out of him, I started looking around online and I came across Jessica Bruder. After reading a couple of online pieces, I knew I needed to read her recent book, so I ordered it straight away.

This book is riveting. Jessica writes about people who, for various reasons (but mostly because they couldn't afford to pay rent anymore) started living out of vans and RVs. Their ranks swelled after the housing crisis in 2008, but it seems to be a growing demographic. Many of them are in their 60s and 70s, and they roam the country following jobs and comfortable weather. It's fascinating.

The book is well written. I don't read much of this kind of non-fiction, so I can't compare it to other books I read. When I read non-fiction, I usually read either textbooks or academic papers and books, and this book is neither. I felt like there was a lot more "telling" than "showing" and that it could have been tweaked a little, but overall I was enthralled with the story that Jessica tells. I highly recommend it.

More importantly (for me, at least), I now have a firmer grasp on my character. I haven't started writing him because I still don't have it entirely, but I know more or less what I want him to be. This has been an interesting process for me because usually, I have a grasp of the character and I throw stuff at it, whereas now it's the other way around (but only for this one character). It's been scary as hell, but I'm determined to get it right. I hope I can do him justice.

Tomorrow we're leaving on our grand adventure. I'll update along the way (hopefully), but there will be no work getting done over the next two weeks. Except maybe I might read a book that was recommended as beloved by the nomadic community. But it doesn't count as work, I don't think. Not until I get back, at least. Then it's research :)


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