Book Review: The Monsters of Templeton

Echoing a theme from my first book review, I want to reiterate that first impressions aren’t everything. When I first began my journey into the town of Templeton (closely and unapologetically based off of Cooperstown, NY), I thought that this was going to be a depressing whine-fest from Willie, a 28-year-old woman who arrives back at her hometown heartbroken and pregnant the same day that a monster surfaces dead in the town’s  lake.

Quite the contrary.

I found this book to be a moving novel in which you travel through time to visit generations upon generations of Willie’s ancestors and discover scandals, murders, and love stories. Upon arriving home, Willie – a decedent of the town’s namesake, Marmaduke Temple – learns that her father (whom she originally believed to be a random hippie from her mother’s wild days) was actually a man in town she had known her whole life.  In Willie’s quest to discover her father’s identity, she uncovers a family history so rich that it must leave some readers yearning to discover more of their own heritage.

The scenes are achingly realistic, and the characters are deep, mysterious, and beautifully flawed. I found myself inthralled in each generation, each illegitimate child, each crooked path of the Temple’s family tree.

In the end, I thought it ended rather abruptly. It was hard for me to believe that this life-altering situation would not change Willie – a smart, but very cynical and slightly misguided woman – a bit more than you are led to believe. I suppose I could label it as one of those “the rest is up to you” happy endings.

The mixture of pure fantasy and strikingly honest quarter-life-crisis-style prose creates a mysteriously exciting and curiously inviting town that you will long to remain a part of.

“…no genius, I am a girl who knows too much to know anything at all…”- Lauren Groff, The Monsters of Templeton

“…all I’m saying is that worrying about it isn’t going to fix anything. The only thing we can do is keep on with our own small thing and try hard to be good and to make life better, and know that if it all ends tomorrow that we were at least happy.” – Lauren Groff, The Monsters of Templeton

“Amor animi arbitrio sumitu, non ponitur; we choose to love; we do not choose to cease loving.” – Lauren Groff, The Monsters of Templeton