First of all, I must say that the Amazon requirement that you label this book for their algorithm is offensive. That said, this book defies all the labels I was required to put on it.
Describe the mood: There are hopeful moments. Moments when you feel that two characters will connect and become more fully human. But it is also dark when something happens, as in real life, where the connection doesn't occur, and there is some suspense in wondering what will become of this person after such an unfair life.
Thoughtful, oh most definately. The characters are so human and therefore complex, that the thoughts just raced through my mind. Thoughts like, "But why couldn't she do better, try harder, be nicer?" "He doesn't have to to that self destructive thing." "Wow, what a creep."
Nostalgia seems to be the one that has caused most of the bad reviews. Some people were expecting a trip back in time to when things appeared to be much better. Well, if that is what you want, this book is not for you. Just because there is a lot of talking about cooking and it includes recipes, does not mean it is all fudge brownies. But there is a State Fair!
This is a book for serious, literary readers. If you love being drawn into the world of complex characters working on some really hard issues, this is your book. And the writing is wonderful. Not so much the turn of a new phrase, but the restraint practiced by the author in creating the characters and scenes. Not a word wasted, and no padding. Thank you, Mr Stradal.