What Matthew Quick, Jojo Moyes, and Melina Marchetta have in common
I just finished reading The Good Luck of Right Now by Mathew Quick, and have to say first off that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think Matthew Quick is best known for The Silver Linings Playbook, which I absolutely adored, and which was made into a really good film starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (not as good as the book, of course, but as far as adaptations go, it was solid). He's written several other books, although I've only read one other so far (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock). When I finished The Good Luck of Right Now last night, I started thinking about some of the things I like so much about Matthew Quick's stories, and it didn't take long to draw a connection between Quick and a couple of other authors whose work I love: Jojo Moyes and Melina Marchetta.
On the surface, these authors' books have little in common aside from the fact that they are mostly contemporary fiction (Marchetta also wrote a phenomenal fantasy trilogy). Quick has written for both adult and young adult audiences. Marchetta writes young adult fiction, and Jojo Moyes writes adult fiction. Moyes is British, Marchetta is Australian, and Quick is American. Moyes books are love stories. Marchetta and Quick have some romantic elements, but that's never the center of the story.
But if you dive a little deeper, there are a couple of things about these authors' work that really resonates with me, and ties them together (if I were writing this for library use, I'd call them readalikes). First, all three have a way of setting the stage that puts you right in the middle of the story. The place of the book is as much a character as the people living there. It's little details, and a way of writing that is vivid without too much unnecessary exposition or flat, two dimensional description. Second, the characters -- both the main characters and secondary characters -- are alive. They feel like people you might meet in real life, or maybe like someone you already know. Finally, all three of these authors are masters at punching you in the gut in the best way possible. By that I mean that their stories are not all sunshine and rainbows. The characters often deal with some pretty intense, sad, hurtful, broken stuff. Life isn't always great or enjoyable, people have baggage, and things don't always go your way. BUT....in the end, there is hope. People survive, and thrive, and build relationships that are good and supportive. People hope for a better future or a better right now, and they see light at the end of the darkest tunnels (Me Before You is a slight exception to this rule, but not entirely).
I think this mix of good and bad, sad and happy, life sucks and people are jerks but sometimes it doesn't and sometimes they aren't kind of storytelling feels so genuine and authentic because it most mimics real life (at least, my view of real life). Combine this aesthetic with exceptional writing, and you can understand why these three authors have become some of my go-tos.