I posted a photo of this book on Instagram when I started reading it, and I mentioned feeling nervous to begin as I had such high hopes for this book. Many commented that they felt the same way. I really wanted to love this book as much as I loved The Book Thief, but sadly it was just ok, in my opinion.
I’ll start by saying that I absolutely loved the Dunbar family. All the boys and their boyishness was so real and endearing. Each of the boys felt like someone you might already know and their bonds with each other felt so natural. That kind of boy bond where they would do anything for their brother, expect express love.
What I didn’t like was the WAY this story was told. I can’t say that I didn’t like the writing, because I did. His writing is like no other that I’ve read before. But the best analogy I can think of to describe the writing in this story is this: Imagine the Dunbar family and their story as the most tightly knitted sweater. So tightly knit that there are no holes and no light can peek through the gaps. Now imagine those threads getting pulled and pulled, looser and looser, until what was once a sweater almost isn’t recognizable as a piece of clothing anymore. That is this book. A great family cast of characters, but a story told in such a loose, disjointed, wobbly way that it was hard to decipher what was even going on.
It almost felt like a barrage of memories that went together in the keeper’s mind, but put on paper didn’t quite make sense, in the same way that an inside joke only makes sense to the people involved at it’s origin. The story is told in short chapters and goes back and forth in time without any notice. There are no times or dates printed to let you know where you are in the timeline of the story.
In the end, I did love the family, like I said. And I got the chance to hear Markus Zusak speak about this new book and I think that also helped me to appreciate it more than I would have otherwise. But overall, I struggled to piece together the parts of this story in a coherent order in my mind. I have seen some glowing reviews for this book, so if you are interested, you should still give it a try.