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A witty and poignant look at modern marriage, the often baffling pursuit of health and happiness, and the stories that bind us together. From the gritty ’90s Chicago art scene to a suburbia of detox diets and home-renovation hysteria, Wellness reimagines the love story with a healthy dose of insight, irony, and heart.
When Jack and Elizabeth meet as college students in the ’90s, the two quickly join forces and hold on tight, each eager to claim a place in Chicago’s thriving underground art scene with an appreciative kindred spirit. Fast-forward twenty years, and now they’re grappling with the routines of married life, the challenges of parenting, and the indignities of aging—not to mention cults of positive thinking, polyamorous would-be suitors, Facebook trolls, NIMBY protests, and something called Love Potion Number Nine.
For the first time, Jack and Elizabeth struggle to recognize each other, and the no-longer-youthful dreamers are forced to face their demons, from unfulfilled career ambitions to painful childhood memories of their own dysfunctional families. In the process, they have to undertake separate, personal excavations, or risk losing the best thing in their lives: each other.
Praise for Wellness
“A hilarious and moving exploration of a modern marriage that astounds in its breadth and intimacy.” —Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half
“Wellness is such a beautiful, sometimes sad, sometimes satirical but most of all honest book about the many people a person becomes — the way a life, in time, inevitably upends itself. A love story of dislodged chronology, Nathan Hill’s brilliant interrogation of a single relationship spiderwebs out into almost every facet of our contemporary anxieties. Few writers working today have dissected, with such a sharp scalpel, the fundamental paradox of modern American life: this hopelessly broken need to fix what may not need fixing, to reach with utter desperation for a version of better that may not be better at all. Read Wellness with caution: it lays so much of our little self-deceptions bare.” —Omar El Akkad, author of American War
“Nathan Hill has synthesized about a hundred years of that distinctly American delusion called self-improvement, and Wellness is the whip smart and gently comic result. Epic in scope, domestic in scale, it’s a book that defies anyone to read it and willingly pick up a dumbbell or worry about counting steps ever again. Hill has released you, America, and his book will leave you not only fortified but amazed.” —Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End
“Wellness is one of the funniest, saddest, smartest novels I’ve ever read. In his portrait of one foundering marriage, Nathan Hill has encapsulated the pathologies and possibilities of our troubled era. With his razor-sharp satire and heartbreaking pathos, his stylistic virtuosity and human warmth, Hill has written both a propulsive page-turner and an artistic achievement of the highest order. I didn’t think I could love a book more than The Nix until I read Wellness. It’s a flat-out masterpiece.”
—Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
“Ambitious, deeply engrossing, whip-smart and ultimately heartbreaking, Nathan Hill’s Wellness is all this and much more.”
—Richard Russo, author of the North Bath Trilogy