"In this deceptively simple tour de force, McDermott lays bare the keenly observed life of Marie Commeford, an ordinary woman whose compromised eyesight makes her both figuratively and literally unable to see the world for what it is.... We come to feel for this unremarkable woman, whose vulnerability makes her all the more winning --- and makes her worthy of our attention. And that’s why McDermott, a three-time Pulitzer nominee, is such an exceptional writer: in her hands, an uncomplicated life becomes singularly fascinating, revealing the heart of a woman whose defeats make us ache and whose triumphs we cheer. Marie’s vision (and ours) eventually clears, and she comes to understand that what she so often failed to see lay right in front of her eyes."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"One of the author’s most trenchant explorations into the heart and soul of the twentieth-century Irish-American family.... Marie’s straightforward narration is interrupted with occasional jumps back and forward in time that create both a sense of foreboding and continuity as well as a meditation on the nature of sorrow.... Marie and Gabe are compelling in their basic goodness, as is McDermott’s elegy to a vanished world."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Readers who love refined, unhurried, emotionally fluent fiction will rejoice at National Book Award–winner McDermott’s return. McDermott is a master of hidden intensities, intricate textures, spiked dialogue, and sparkling wit. We first meet Marie at age seven, when she’s sitting on the stoop in her tight-knit, Irish-Catholic Brooklyn neighborhood, waiting for her father to come home from work. Down the street, boys play stickball, consulting with dapper Billy, their blind umpire, an injured WWI vet. Tragedies and scandals surge through the enclave, providing rough initiations into sex and death.... A marvel of subtle modulations, McDermott’s keenly observed, fluently humane, quietly enthralling novel of conformity and selfhood, of ‘lace-curtain pretensions’ as shield and camouflage, celebrates family, community, and ‘the grace of a shared past.’"
— Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)