Title: The Einsteins of Vista Point
Author: Ben Guterson
Stars: ★★★ (3 stars)
I am not familiar with Guterson’s other works, so I don’t think I went into this one with the same biases that I’ve noticed in other reviews. That being said, I also didn’t have any particular expectations of Guterson. Everything fell onto this one novel, which might have worked against him.
All in all, this is a family drama built upon very familiar buildings blocks. If you don’t like angst and putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on children, this is not the book for you. While middle grade (MG) often puts everything on the children, this one is very heavy. The Einstein siblings reminded me a bit of the Baudelaire children.
As I loved A Series of Unfortunate Events as a child, I thought I would enjoy this, but Guterson doesn’t have the tongue-in-cheek grace of Handler. Additionally, the Einstein parents are rather delusional. They don’t offer Zack or his siblings the support they obviously need, and they make reckless decisions following the death of their daughter.
Guterson does successfully portray different manners of grief. People make stupid choices, and bad parenting which enables children to put themselves at risk is common in this sort of story. It isn’t a cliche I enjoy, but the alternative seems to be dead parents, so the whole situation is a lose-lose.
The reveal is highly predictable, and the tension is slow with pacing at times breaking any chance at rising intrigue. All in all, not horrible but disappointing.