Book Review - Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson

According to The New York Times, Pineapple Street is "the season's first beach read." And no doubt, Jenny Jackson's buzzy debut is wildly bingeable. Tightly constructed chapters make each endpoint feel like you could read just one more section. The world itself feels rich and immersive, as you dive into the wild wonders of the 1%. But there's something a bit more sophisticated than what The New York Times says. It reminds of another "beach read" Florence Adler Swims Forever. That book also maintained a bingeability factor, but it also layered complexity against its setting. Somewhere between that book and The Royal Tenenbaums, Pineapple Street is a fun and fast read, but it never quite has enough action nor does it ever coalesce into something greater.

Pineapple Street is set in modern day against the backdrop of generational wealth. You're quickly immersed into the world of the Stocktons. Talks of tennis clubs, stocks and real estate all continually happen, but at the heart of the story are the three females. Two sisters stemming from the Stockton family: Georgiana, the youngest of the family who works for a non-profit but seems oblivious to any of her riches, and Darley, the eldest daughter who gave up her fortune to marry another man, Malcolm, who makes quite the small fortune himself. Our other, and probably the most fascinating of the bunch, is Sasha, who marries into the family. She's the outcast. The family steamrolls over her. Often times, those actions aren't so much malicious as they are impervious to their surroundings. In this book, the rich act rich. It's a story of more money for more money's sake. 

Each of the three characters are fascinating in their own right. While my preference was towards Sasha, Darley's dry wit led to more than a few chuckles, and Georgiana carries much of the emotional weight of the text. It means that no matter which perspective you're in, it's always interesting. That said, what remains mesmerizing is the setting. The Pineapple Street home is a nautical nightmare. When Sasha and her husband are gifted this home, Sasha's feelings of becoming an outcast are only enhanced. The family despises change, and so the house must remain a museum of artifacts for the Stockton family. Trophies, couches, and bizarre trinkets all hold their own story, and the Stockton family reminds Sasha of this at every moment.

Even though this is deeply fascinating, not a whole lot happens. The events that occur in the first 50 pages sustain it through the next 250 pages. While other minor events do happen, nothing happens to the family as a whole. The result is an isolated read. These three people could be from the same family, but not so much would change if they weren't. This feels like three novellas merged into one full text. It is admittedly interesting, but when I realized I only had 50 pages left I realized, not much is going to happen. And at the end I sort of shrugged and went "huh. That was it." 

Undoubtedly this is definitely one of the most interesting books of the year, but it felt a bit incomplete. If you go for Pineapple Street, you'll no doubt be enchanted. Because the book is so breezy to read and Jenny Jackson's prose is so tightly constructed, it's hard to not encourage people to read Pineapple Street. And unlike this year's Really Good, Actually, which really targeted millennials as its audience, Pineapple Street appeals to a far wider audience. If this is an indication of the types of books we're getting for the summer, I'm excited for what will transpire throughout 2023.

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson
Release Date: March 7, 2023
MSRP: $19.99


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