Markus Zusak, the author of The Book Thief, has proven once again to be part writer, part poet, and part craftsman in his newest, breathtaking novel. The story is about 5 brothers who are raising each other, the parents who raised them first, and the complicated history of how these parents came to be. It is a story of love and relationships and loss and not really coping and, well, trying to cope; And while its a bit of an effort to get to know each of the characters at first (as in real life), it’s ultimately well worth the time.
The narrative here is stunning – and must be appreciated for its understated beauty. There is raw emotion and silence and pain and beauty and love and everything in between that is utterly palpable and with a feeling of air between each word so that the reader has time to experience each of these right there beside each character. Each word, each sentence is painstakingly chosen and there is poetry on each page of this prose. By the later chapters, the reader feels the characters are so real that one might just walk in and sit on the couch and watch the bad, 1980’s movies with the boys and tussle with them as they do with each other. And the love of storytelling by the main character, Clay, allows for the actual storyteller, Matthew (the oldest brother) to switch gracefully back and forth between the boys’ adventures and the parents’ earlier experiences so that have the privilege of getting to know all of them.
But be warned – it is a slow start and a bit beyond midway it feels like it is finished when it is not. This book requires patience and calm. But like most things in life, patience is heartily rewarded here. I literally could not speak for awhile after reading the ending of this story, feeling absolutely washed over by its utter warmth and love.
This is a masterpiece of subtlety and a very large poem of the heart.
I hope will allow yourself the privilege of loving it as I did.