I picked up this book because it was on the same shelf as another favorite author of mine who happens to have the same last name and I thought the cover was intriguing. I often pick books like one might select dessert. Does it LOOK good?? Like, literally. Here’s where I crater to visually stimulating graphic design! I like to think, however, it’s because I’m cultured and I appreciate the finer things in life … like well designed dust jackets on books.
Anyway, back to the book. I read most of it, and again….oddly enough…I arrived at chapter 9 when I said, “Ok. Time for another book!”
It is an interesting book though. I think Ms. Shreve is a very articulate author. I was pulled into the book immediately as the first chapter begins with a wonderfully compelling first sentence: Today is my brother’s twenty-seventh birthday.
Don’t ask me why I thought that was so compelling but, to me, it was. And so I started reading. And eventually the storyline starts to unfold. The key word here is eventually. The story was just SO SLOW to progress. We learn in the first chapter that her brother was assassinated – but still by the 9th chapter, there is a very tiny amount of progress into the WHY question lingering over everyone’s mind (reader included). But then, at the same time, all the way through the book, Shreve paints a post-9/11 picture of life in Washington, D.C. and weaves that sense of social and civil unrest into every page of her book, that it doesn’t surprise the reader to learn that the brother was assassinated for political reasons. It doesn’t surprise the reader to learn that he had belonged to some covert grass roots, “We’re going to change the world” organization causing ripples of concern to run through some of the powers that be (like the federal government, to name one). It doesn’t surprise the reader to find out that the family is bereaved by the loss of their dear, beloved “brother”. There is just nothing really surprising about the book.
The quality of writing is far superior than most other novels. From a grammatical standpoint, the book was fascinating, but maybe that’s because I’m a closeted nerd and am more intrigued (sometimes anyway) by a writers style than by the material itself. And I really liked Shreve’s style. But I just couldn’t really keep up with the predictability of the book when it was so tediously slow to progress. I had to move on.
So, I would give this book a “NO” sign though! There were a lot of great things about it. The setting was post 9/11 in Washington, DC. The characters were American but immigrants originally (weren’t we all?). The family is very The main character is a biologist and it’s interesting to here about life from her point of view.
In the end though, or at least by the 9th chapter, I recognized this book as a very intelligently crafted political statement about the state of our union and ultimately I didn’t agree with her perspective of life. But then again, I life in Texas, “where seldom is heard a discouraging word”….. and I just couldn’t read anymore of what, eventually, became to me….drivel.
This book has also been reviewed on the National Public Radio website. For a different perspective….