Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton (Canadian)

Deloume Road

Matthew Hooton
978-0-307-39813-0
Knopf Canada
February 2010
320 Pages
Received free from Fresh Face of Fiction Campaign to Review

Description (From GoodReads.com)

From a breathtakingly talented new writer: a beautifully written, gripping novel that weaves storytelling magic, life, love, and tragedy into the beauty of the Canadian landscape.

Deloume Road takes us into a hot August month on Vancouver Island during the first Gulf War, to a small rural community where the children's lives play out unchangingly in the woods and secret places - until they discover an object from the past that will come to haunt them all. Slowly we discover how intertwined are the lives of recent comers with long established neighbours: a Ukrainian butcher who yearns for his wife and small son left behind - and learns something disturbing; a widowed Korean girl who fears for the life of the baby she is carrying; a Native artist whose pilot son has crashed in the wilderness… And behind them all, the shadow of Gerard Deloume, whose suicide in 1899 set off a sequence of events that erupt a century later with violent, tragic consequences.

Jen’s Review

This was a wonderful challenging book for me to read. I have to be honest, this isn’t my usual type of book – I usually prefer light entertaining fluff in which I can escape from some of the challenges of real life (Men, kids and cranky nursing students). However, I wanted to challenge myself and broaden my horizons so that is why I signed up to review the latest in The New Faces of Fiction campaign. I have also had a prejudice against adult Canadian literature (None against YA or Kids), probably due to being forced to read a lot of it during my school years. Most of it I found to be depressing, overly descriptive, smug, self important, and most of the time set in the prairies, the bush or during the depression. In other words, Dull Dull Dull!!!

This book made me glad I decided to take on the challenge. The book was so goddamn beautifully written; I wanted to cry at times. The authors prose made me feel that I could almost reach out and touch the landscape and see the characters in their flesh and blood. Even though the story is set in Vancouver Island it reminded me of the simple summers of my childhood playing with relatives in small towns in Ontario like Madoc and Cobalt.

Mr Hooton’s description of the children and their lives are very realistic and you just know they are based on real people. He also describes beautifully the isolation of the foreigners who come and try to fit in here in Canada and of their longing for their homelands, but also of their hope in living in place where they can be free. It is an achingly beautiful and sad story and perfect for reading on a cold winter night.

My challenges with the book are mine personally and have nothing to do with the talent of the writer. I found that the narrative jumped around a lot from person to person which made it difficult at times to keep involved in the story. The novels conclusion left me with a feeling of sadness which overshadowed the feeling of hope that was at the heart of the story. At times I also got frustrated with how slowly the story was progressing, but I think that has a lot to do with how impatient of a person I am. Also there was very little humour in the story, which is something I think I need in order to really enjoy a story. Life is hard; we need to laugh more in order to get through the tough times!

The front cover says not to quote from the material without comparing with the finished book, but I am going to disobey this (I know, I am such a rebel). I don’t have the finished book, only the ARC, so in order to finish this review today I am just going to quote some of my favourite parts. So there Knopf!

“In Hangul there was a word for it, the unravelling and softening of memory and pain. But she couldn’t think of it, her Korean shrinking as her belly grew.”

“Korean was easier to speak but it confines made her feel claustrophobic. It was so imposing with its hierarchies and six levels of politeness, in how it seemed poetic, but it was also clinical, perhaps lacking something. Could it be joy?”

“Perhaps that all that home was – Family.”

“Laugher, that sounds had been missing from Deloume somehow, as thought he’d been waiting to hear it, but never realized it”

The following quote really resonated with me as I am a mom with a disabled child AND a so called normal child.

“His parents would never take things from Andy if he was attached to it. Sometimes he felt like he got punished for being normal”

I do recommend everyone to take a peak at the book, it is worth the read. And also Canadian authors, COME ON, let’s try writing something cheerful for once.

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