Also, thought I'd give my suggested template a whirl:
Give a quick overview of the characters and plot.
Following about 150 years of history through the eyes of folks visiting or from Ireland. In part 1, we meet 3 men who make the transatlantic trip to Ireland: the first two dudes to make the flight in like an airplane with no instruments, Frederick Douglass!, and Senator Mitchell who helps broker the peace accords for Northern Ireland. In parts 2 and 3, the lineage of women descended from a housemaid who meets Frederick Douglass and goes to America shortly after. Their lives bump into those of the male historical figures.
Why did you pick this book?
I liked his first novel, Let the Great World Spin, which was one of the first "real" books I remember reading after figuring out Darius was old enough that I didn't need to be constantly supervising him.
How did you feel while reading this book?
Honestly, the second half of the book, the lives of the women were so much more interesting that I wondered why the framing device of the men were necessary.
What’s something you thought the book did really well? How was it accomplished?
What is one thing that needs improvement in the book?
Going back to the question above: the "interconnectedness of everything" felt more forced in this book than it did in Let the Great World Spin. Perhaps the author was trying to make a point about meaning in men's lives being formed by their political actions, while women's lives are made meaningful by family? I don't know. It kind of irked me---both the contrived puzzle-like nature of the plot, and the ingrained sexism that prioritizes men's political achievements as a lens for framing history.
Obviously the transatlantic crossings--by boat, by plane, alone, together, leaving family behind, etc. It was meditative in that way, lots of beautiful description about the strange arcs of a family, and of a life.
Writing style: Is the writing style simple or complex? How does this affect the story?
One thing that is usually pretty interesting with multiple narrative characters is how the author makes them all sound or think differently. I thought McCann did nice work here. The section with Mitchell, for example, is short and choppy. It just "sounds" different than other sections, and I found myself wondering how much research and work must have done to achieve that.
Tone/Mood/Theme: what is the author's attitude toward the subject of the book and the emotions that surround the story?
I think one thing I did like about this novel is that many of the narratives were from characters who were older. As I get older, I appreciate novels that look at the span of a life. I quite liked the author's writing style and found his prose very moving, especially as the women dealt with the sorrows and tragedies of their lives.
Overall: I enjoyed it. It was a solid novel.