Praise & Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

“A disjointed Pulp Fiction-style narrative, hopscotching west of the Mississippi with a motley set of characters . . . The penultimate story, ‘Providence,’ is a gem…An engaging set of stories of broken lives, jagged in structure but smooth in the telling.” [Full Article]

Publishers Weekly

“Petersen’s stories sing with wise-cracking (a drug dealer on his business arrangements: “It’s an LLC, man. Corporations are people”), irresistible characters who make the best of a world filled with corruption and deception.” [Full Article]

Columbia Daily Tribune

“Todd Robert Petersen . . . leavens his fiction with personalities and peculiarities that, as a native Southwesterner, feel like home. His latest novel, It Needs to Look Like We Tried, fuses two great markers of the Southwest: quietly desperate lives and long stretches of open road. Just a few chapters in, it already has scratched the itch left by the books of Willy Vlautin and Barry Hannah. And just enough strangeness lingers to help fill the void of “Twin Peaks,” which I finished for the first time this spring.” [Full Article]

Fathom Magazine

“Recent years have given rise to names like the Kardashians, Robertsons, and Gaineses simply by inviting viewers into their lives. And for better or worse, they’ve shaped our expectations for things like beauty, family, and the décor of our homes. That’s true for many of the characters in It Needs to Look Like We Tried as well, which Petersen explores from the vantage of media consumers, producers, and subjects. His treatment of these themes makes the book a timely read, especially with a man made famous by reality TV now at the helm of our country . . . It Needs to Look Like We Tried forces readers to slow down, place themselves in someone else’s shoes, and consider the effects of their decisions. It reminds us that whatever hope we have begins beyond ourselves. And while that will always be a messy process leaving us facedown on the ground more often than not, at least we can say we tried." [Full Article]

Flagstaff Live!

It Needs to Look Like We Tried combines the six degrees of separation theory with the butterfly effect, in which even the smallest of actions can have monumental consequences later down the road…These connections reveal themselves over the course of the novel, and that’s part of the book’s fun—trying to figure out whose actions butterfly-effected whom, and where exactly the whole thing began.…While the themes of the stories may be dark—parental death, infidelity, mental illness—all of this could have been overly melodramatic if not for Petersen’s light touch. The author is not concerned with focusing on the dour. What interests him instead is his characters’ emotional reactions when the world drops them into situations that are beyond their control. They are caught in storms created by other people who are, in turn, reacting to someone else’s storm.” [Full Article]