Helen of Troy, Illinois – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Annie Sereno

Helen of Troy, Illinois by Annie Sereno is a quirky romantic comedy set in the American Midwest. This novel follows Helen Hubler, a young twenty-something who left her small-town life in the dust when she moved Manhattan. Helen returns to her hometown to try and sell her childhood home, but things quickly become complicated when Helen meets the potential buyer, Dr. Gordon Ruckman.

If Helen of Troy, Illinois has a weakness, it is the predictability of the plot. This novel follows the standard romantic comedy plot-line. There is nothing truly groundbreaking here. Readers familiar with romantic comedies will not be surprised with how things end up for Helen. The only way to address this issue would be to fundamentally change the nature of the plot or the characters so that it deviates from the standard formula.

That being said, Helen of Troy, Illinois does not really suffer because of its predictability. A well-written narrative does not need to reinvent the wheel to be satisfying, and this novel is nothing if not satisfying. Sereno has created a complete world for her main characters to inhabit. Helen’s mother Lena has a storyline that is entirely divorced from Helen’s storyline, and her position as the local beautician affords her access to all sorts of gossip. This makes the world feel complete. The reader knows that behind the main story of Helen and Gordon, a whole town of characters are quietly going about their lives. Helen of Troy, Illinois by Annie Sereno will appeal to any reader looking for a quick, quirky read with a satisfyingly happy ending.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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