Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge: "Atonement" by Ian McEwan

Pictured is a screenshot of Rory reading McEwan’s bestseller in season four, episode three, which I found on the Gilmore Girls wiki. It’s the episode in which Emily redecorates Rory’s Yale dorm room (without consulting her, as Emily does) and we first meet Digger. I have such a fondness for poor Digger!

I do not, however, feel fondly toward Atonement. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a brilliantly crafted and written novel. While reading it, I was in absolute awe of the construction and quality of the prose. But when I got to the end of it, I felt probably the most depressed I’ve ever felt in my life.

I remember standing on my back patio looking onto the rain-soaked yard beyond (yes, it really was raining the day I finished it – so apropos!) and thinking, “This novel should come with a warning for the clinically depressed.” I may have called a dear friend and babbled incoherently, begging to know how – WHY?! – was I, who believes in the importance of hope above all else, not warned about this book. The immediate aftermath of reading it is a little fuzzy in my memory. Also, my hands are trembling just thinking about it.

In case I haven’t been absolutely crystal clear, Atonement crushed my soul, then ground it up into little pieces, then put them in a blender, then frapped them. Then spit on them. Then chucked the soggy bits into a cursed fire to be consumed. I had to start a new book immediately upon finishing Atonement so as to exorcise the demons the novel left in place of my soul. And also to grow a new soul. Good times!

So it occurs to me I haven’t told you anything about the book itself. Obviously, I can’t tell you what made it so soul-destroying because that would be a major spoiler. Obviously. It begins in 1935, when a little girl sees something she shouldn’t have and misunderstands it. The rest of the novel follows the repercussions of that moment on all involved.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m taking it too hard? Have you read it? What did you think?

We would love for you to join us on this challenge. To see the complete list of books, please visit The Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge. If you would like to participate, please email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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