Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
Recommended for: Anyone dissatisfied with small-town life; teenagers
From my TBR list?: No; on the 1001 Books list
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Summary: A young woman from the city marries a country doctor and has trouble adjusting to small town life.
This novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis is still relevant in many ways, even though it was written 89 years ago. It deals with the gossip, jealousy, and close-minded attitudes you can encounter if you live in a small town. It shows that there can be a lot of dissatisfaction hidden beneath the facade of an idyllic village setting.
The main character Carol has always wanted to do something great with her life. After trying a number of things, she majors in library science in college and becomes a librarian. Deep down, however, she wants to be a "reformer". She wants to transform what she sees as dingy prairie towns into centers of culture and beauty. Carol sees her chance when she meets Will Kennicott, a doctor from just such a town called Gopher Prairie. She marries him and moves to Gopher Prairie, only to find that not only are the people happy the way they are, they are suspicious of anything new.
While reading this book I vacillated between feeling sorry for Carol and being angry with her. I could sympathize with how boring it must have been for her in a town where all the women wanted to do was discuss babies and the price of beef. However, there were many times that I thought she should leave Will and move back to the city instead of making him miserable.
I think that in this day and age a teenager might identify with Carol more than an adult. Much of the book deals with how trapped Carol feels and how frustrated she is in not being understood by the people without her. If a teenager could make it through the dated language, she might find herself in the pages of this novel. After all, teenagers don't have much control over their lives and are pretty much stick where they are, and high school isn't often tolerant of people who don't fit into any of the groups.