The Hours by Michael Cunningham This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 25, 2010
Michael Cunningham begins his book with what some would think of as an ending for any other book. But this is not just any book; The Hours tells the stories of three women whose lives are intertwined in a complex web, and gives the readers insight into what each woman is struggling with. Every page helps to develop this amazing tale about Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown, and Clarissa Vaughan.

At first it seems as though Virginia is writing a book about Clarissa that is being read by Laura. But toward the end, Cunningham reveals the truth of these relationships, taking the book down a whole different path. Nothing in this book is expected.

In the prologue, Virginia is shown taking her life by drowning in a river near London in 1941, but a little farther into the book Cunningham begins revealing more about Woolf's life – who she was and what she struggled with.

Laura, a young wife with a son and another baby on the way, lives in Los Angeles in 1949. She too struggles with thoughts of suicide, but she knows she can't take her life; she has a family and a baby whom she would also destroy with her death. Her story depicts her struggles wanting to kill herself, but at the same time wanting to fit into her life, to feel accepted.

Clarissa lives in New York City in the late 1900s, with her partner of 18 years, Sally, and daughter, Julia. She adds another aspect to this intricate book through her thoughts about being friends with a dying man, an author, who eventually commits suicide. Instead of being suicidal, like the other two women, she is impacted by the suicide of someone very important to her.

Cunningham takes the lives of these three women and twists them together in many unexpected ways. He has created an extraordinary book with many surprising aspects. A Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Hours is well-written and complex. Not many authors can take the lives of multiple people in different time periods and show how they intersect. Cunningham does this amazingly well.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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