Everyone Loves You Back By Louie Cronin

I may not be the most impartial person to review this. I’ve met the author, Louie Cronin, when she did a reading here in Boston with Sean Carswell, who runs Gorsky Press, the publishing company that released this book. (As many of you know, Gorsky is the publishing arm of Razorcake.) Cronin was delightful and friendly. Additionally, this story takes place where I live (Boston) and often hang out (Cambridge). That aspect especially drew me in to the content.

Everyone Loves You Back is a fictional tale of Bob Boland, a radio engineer (and not to be confused with NPR’s Bob Boilen), whose story bears a striking resemblance to what I imagine my life would’ve been in ten years had I not met my girlfriend. Bob is forty-eight years old and lives alone in the house he inherited from his parents in Cambridge, near Harvard University. It’s 1997 and the city is gentrifying. While Bob can barely keep his own house from falling apart, there’s a fight to save a rare Japanese maple tree from being destroyed due to condo development. He has one neighbor who wants him to get rid of his trees that she thinks are no better than weeds, while another neighbor constantly feeds the squirrels that are infesting Bob’s house. And yet another neighbor is installing a meditation garden and wants Bob to give up some of his land for that purpose. Meanwhile, Bob is trying to keep his head above water in his career, his writing, and his romantic relationships.

Everyone Loves You Back raises interesting questions: who are we and when do we really grow up? As more people put off relationships, marriage, and having a family until later in life, not to mention understanding what the right “career” is for them; when is it we really come into our own? Do we just kind of wing it and hope for the best? While Bob’s story takes place over the course of less than one year in his life, we’re able to watch him finally come into his own (or at least as close as he might ever get), amidst all his failed attempts, insecurities, and screw-ups. Despite my close proximity to the setting (which brought me delight as I read familiar street names), I believe these messages are things all readers can truly enjoy. Kurt Morris (Gorsky Press, PO Box 42024, LA, CA 90042)