The Outlook For Earthlings traces a difficult friendship across a lifetime. Melanie Taper is rule-bound, timid, self-erasing. Yet in unguarded moments she demonstrates such deadly insight into human foibles as to suggest a strength that has, for dark reasons, deliberately hidden itself lifelong. Scarlet Rand is rash, willful, abrasive—vexed by “demure” traits and “small fussing motions.” Shocked by Mel’s passivity and near-archaic saintliness, Scarlet disbelieves it. Their friendship suggests to each a final frontier, a saving sanctuary. Yet at its core each woman takes a secret, moral offense at the other’s inmost nature—and her choices. Against the deadline of the illness which is slowly destroying one of them, a reckoning must occur.
The Outlook for Earthlings considers the limits of friendship—and of witnessing. It asks how we may finally measure a life—and who should do the measuring.
The Outlook for Earthlings is compulsively readable and author Joan Frank’s descriptions are visual and inviting, wooing with hearty conversation between compelling characters and delivering complexities in their interactions. I enjoyed the description of the two main characters meeting in their youth, the identification of the environment that nurtured them, and watching them follow their own paths. I also really enjoyed the contrast implicit in the individual pursuits, comparing the sameness of their beginnings, the parallels of their families, and the yearnings to be different. There was another contrast that floored me: Frank’s definitions of the arc of a marriage – the softening of the partners, the suffusion of desires and the resulting impact felt on the union – that I think foreshadows and offers a point of comparison for the relationship between the two friends, Scarlet and Mel.
I enjoyed this one, particularly for the quiet but powerful representation of the evolution of individuals, within and aside from relationships. Thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours and Author Joan Frank for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in order for me to complete this review.
Title: The Outlook for Earthlings
Author: Joan Frank
Publisher: Regal House Publishing
Publication date: October 2, 2020