Like other Irving books I've read, this one was both funny and sad as well as quirky at times. The story kept me engaged as I wanted to find out what happens next to Franny, John, Frank, Lilly, Egg, etc.
The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born-we weren't even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Franny, the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lilly and Egg.
"The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels."
So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry.
This was certainly not my favorite Irving novel and although it was difficult to get through at times I did like it in general. What I love about his books is that they put people in unique situations and challenge them but the characters don't always make the "right" choices. Sometimes the subject matter in this book was tough to read (rape, incest, prostitution) but I thought it was handled realistically and with beautiful language and emotion, as Irving always does. I recommend this book for fans who want to read all of his novels or those who like to read involved stories that deal with difficult subject matter. It is not for the faint at heart.