WHAT YOU NEED by Rachel Wifall

A central theme of literature is what the character(s) need, whether it's survival, love, victory, wealth, knowledge, or something else.  Rachel Wifall looks at this search through three very different people, times, and places in her first novel What You Need.

This novel is divided into three separate stories.  "Haunted Heart," set in England 1949, revolves around former pilot Edward, his unspoken love for his friend Claire, and her wedding to his best friend Archie.  "Stairways" is set in NYC in 2013, where Fergus McNamara balances family, gambling, and working as household manager for the rich, impatient, and obnoxious Abe Goldman, his spoiled wife Julia, and their servants and high-society friends.  Finally, "What You Need (Ce dont vous avezbesion)"  brings us to Long Island in 2010 and Mary, whose balance of waitressing, education, dating, and friends is upset by the murder of her neighbor Mark.

What You Need is a satisfying, pleasant novel.  Rachel creates very distinct protagonists for each segment of the book, whether it's the almost antiquated feel of the post-war love triangle, the hectic life of a big job in Manhattan, or the uncertain stumbling to figure out what one wants and needs in their thirties.  The dialogue is nice, whether it's philosophical musings ("Time may not be an issue for those already departed, but life could seem so long to the living.")  The overall pace of What You Need is sometimes slow, but it's also an enjoyable slice of life from three distinct lives.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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