The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells: Book Review

The End of Loneliness  by Benedict Wells
Published: Jan 29 by Penguin Books
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy on Amazon

 

From Publisher: A kaleidoscopic family saga told through the fractured lives of the three Moreau siblings alongside a faltering, recovering love story, The End of Loneliness is a stunning meditation on the power of our memories, of what can be lost and what can never be let go.

My Thoughts: I love family sagas so I had high hopes for this character driven exploration of fate, life, and love but by the halfway point I fizzled out on the story. This is the story of Jules, Marty and Liz, 3 siblings who weather their first tragedy when their parents are killed when they’re all still under 16 (Not a spoiler, this is in book jacket description). They’re sent to a boarding school and I must say, the author did a fantastic job of portraying the depth of sadness that all 3 experienced because, as we learned from the beginning of the story, they were close with their parents and had a happy family life. Jules is the narrator and while I liked him, it did create a situation where I didn’t feel like I got to know or understand the story from Liz and Marty’s perspectives which I would’ve liked. Especially Liz as she really struggled after their parents were killed.

I appreciated the author’s ability to wax philosophical on fate, chance and how one’s life course can be completely altered by both. However, by the halfway mark I wanted more from the story. Not a whole lot was happening outside of us getting life updates on each as the years go by. We know Jules has been in a motorcycle accident and I did wonder what contributed to that situation but I found myself skimming for the second half of the book. I liked the ending but overall, I just wanted more…more drama, conflict, tension…something. But the writing is great and if you like slower, philosophical, character explorations this would be for you.

Thanks to Penguin Books for my copy via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review 

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REVIEW: AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE By Tayari Jones

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Publication Date: Feb 6th, 2018 By Algonquin Books

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored and seeks comfort with someone else. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

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This was one of my most anticipated winter reads as I’m so drawn to stories about innocent people in prison. While I usually read non-fiction stories involving this topic I couldn’t wait to see how it was explored by Jones in this fictional story. I’ll admit I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the flow of the story in the beginning and I think that was due to the writing style and possibly the character’s voices. We are initially introduced to Roy and Celestial in the first year of their marriage with occasional backstory of how they met interspersed. The narrative switches perspectives between both Roy and Celestial so we get to “hear” from both of them. The glimpses we get of their  marriage were intriguing because I found myself wondering if perhaps Roy was more invested in the marriage than Celestial.

As the story progressed, I began to like it even more, especially when Roy was unjustly convicted…it was tragic and I can’t imagine how that would affect not just Roy and Celestial but their marriage and their extended families. Everyone was traumatized. I’m going to be honest, once Roy went to prison and the story shifted to quite a lot of letter writing between the two as well as quite a bit of what felt like emotional examinations of everyone’s feelings, the story took on a meandering pace for me. By the halfway point, I found my mind wandering and I started to skim many sections. For me, this can be my struggle with literary fiction…I love the story and really want to just get to it and find out what happens to Roy, who will Celestial ultimately choose, and what will become of their marriage…instead the narratives meander to the distant past and to details of their everyday living that I just struggled staying interested in.

As the story neared the end, I’m not sure I fully connected with the ending but I will say Roy’s character…his fate and his future…is what kept me reading and hoping things would turn around for him. This was a really well conceived storyline that shed light on how our justice system can and does ruin lives. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it like I expected to and finished feeling pretty middle of the road.

Many thanks to Algonquin Books via Netgalley for my copy

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

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Published March 4th, 2014

The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners’ pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

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After reading (and loving) The Child Finder a couple weeks ago, I hightailed it to my library and grabbed The Enchanted, that’s how much I enjoyed Rene Denfeld’s writing! All I knew before starting this was that it involved death row and prison…two buzzwords that will always grab my attention…so I dived right in immediately. If I could only use one word to describe this book it would be haunting.

The story is narrated in the third person omniscient by one of the inmates on death row and this was the PERFECT way to tell this story. We also do get to hear from the lady, the warden and the priest but it’s all from an outside looking in perspective. The lady is there to investigate the case of York, an inmate scheduled for execution, but who may get off The Row if she finds enough evidence to convert his sentence.

Throughout the story we get an up close and personal look at life inside a prison and it’s not pretty people. I have a background in criminology and psychology and this book put both those concepts to the test. The author took so many themes…death row, putting children in adult prisons, compassion, vengeance, retribution, imagination…mixed it up and weaved a story that had me thinking and challenging my own views. This is by no means an easy read, on the contrary, it’s quite dark and difficult and at times I wanted to jump ahead because the images were too painful to read about…the white haired boy will forever haunt me…but this is how our criminal justice system operates and I wanted to challenge myself to really think about parts of this book. I absolutely loved the author’s use of books and their ability to transport an inmate to magical places outside of his physical cell as well as the mental cell he lived in. Now, whether he deserved the escape and temporary peace that reading and books brought him…that’s one of the morally gray questions readers are presented with. That and the ending…I was very much left surprised and wondering…”what would I do?”

Rene Denfeld’s writing is so magical and lyrical that I will be first in line for whatever she writes next!

**Sensitivity warning…there are what I call periphery scenes of rape, violence, and execution…meaning the scenes aren’t in your face overly graphic but you know exactly what’s happening**

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Bill at Especially Books

Ann Marie at Lit Wit Wine Dine

Amy at NovelGossip

Annie at The Misstery

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction

 

 

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

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Published Oct 2016 By Riverhead

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance–and the subsequent cover-up–will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

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This is one of the best blurbs I’ve read, it really highlights the book well without giving away the story. I finished this a couple weeks ago and I was blown away by the exquitsite writing of Brit Bennett. How is this a debut?? This was one of those books that I had seen around but resisted reading…why?…I have no idea. I need to do a post someday on all the books I’ve resisted reading that I end up loving!

The story begins with The Mothers narrating as all knowing voices from a time in the future. We meet Nadia who’s finishing up high school and living with her father in a small seaside community in California. I was immediately taken with the setting as well as Nadia’s character. Her heartbreak over her mother’s suicide pierced the pages and made me empathize with how painful that must’ve been. She had been close with her mom and she would never have answers as to why. Her sorrow leads her to make some impulsive decisions with consequences that will follow her for years to come.

The narrative flows beautifully through the years which I loved. I enjoyed seeing where Nadia’s ambition led her and whether she would achieve peace with herself, her father, the church and her community. We’re also privy to Luke and Aubrey’s life through the years and I really liked both of them, flaws and all. The story, however, belonged to Nadia and I was hoping against hope she was able to be happy in the end. Was she? Well, you’ll have to read to find out! If you’re in the mood for wonderful literary fiction with a roads not taken theme, I highly recommend giving this debut a try. As for me, I’ll be waiting impatiently for Brit Bennett’s next novel.

HAPPY READING! 

 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Cathy at Between the Lines

Julie at Novel Thrills and Chills

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Nicki atThe Secret Library Site

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Sam at Clues and Reviews

Bill at Especially Books

Ann Marie at Lit Wit Wine Dine