This book is like the perfect date for a grammar geek. It’s funny, smart, reasonable, and hates semicolons.
June Casagrande does an excellent job of guiding writers through the pitfalls of crafting a sentence, carefully illustrating the many ways one can fumble with just a few words. She offers solid instruction on how to avoid the pitfalls, be on guard for common errors, and generally improve the sentences that form the foundation for all writing, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.
The book ends with some useful appendices, too, though the first one–humbly titled Grammar for Writers–may cause unpleasant flashbacks to English class, depending on the individual. If seeing “Subject + transitive verb + direct object + object complement” gives you the willies, know that Casagrande explains everything carefully, concisely and with a fair amount of humor.
I tend to intuit what works and doesn’t work in a sentence without being able to precisely identify a prepositional phrase or a nonfinite clause, so much of this book felt like a remedial course. I don’t mean that as a negative, either. It’s an excellent guide and Casagrande repeatedly emphasizes that you don’t need to memorize every rule (or variation of the same), that you can–and should–break out a dictionary or two when in doubt, and breaking rules is completely okay, provided you actually understand the rules you’re breaking.
Overall, this is an excellent and entertaining guide to grammar. I feel like any grammatical goofs I’ve made in this review will carry extra shame for me, having read this spiffy primer.