genre: adult fiction
for the Book Blogger Reading Swap
It's hard for me to calm down my feelings about this book enough to actually create sentences. I'm swimming in thoughts and it's hard to decide what's going to come out on top.
Daniel of post-civil war Barcelona. Dear Daniel, who is our narrator and our eyes as his story begins, is ten years old. The son of a bookseller, Daniel discovers a book whose mysterious author will occupy his thoughts throughout his adolescence. Curious and determined, Daniel seeks to find out what happened to the writer and his digging will place him into an even more mysterious story that's as deadly and convoluted as any novel.
There are some incredible characters in this book. Daniel is so wonderfully naive, thoughtful and yet self-centered in a way that we all are as teenagers. The character who becomes his best friend might be one of the most fabulously memorable characters I've gotten to know. And the bad guys? Oh dear. There is horribleness that Daniel could've never anticipated when he opened the first page of that beloved novel.
I want to say that I loved it and yet was really disturbed by it at the same time. There is so much pain within these pages. I mean, the kind of pain that rips apart cities and families and hearts, sometimes all at once. But also, there is so much love. Not only love between people, but a love of books, of the written word and of those whose hearts are poured into their pages. This book creates such a wonderful thread between those who choose to write and those who take the time to read, that there is a sacred space there than can transcend personal familiarity or age or time.
Books can change us. That's a message that rang loud and clear for me. And while there are some graphic scenes and language that could make a sailor blush, let the record show that this book amazed me. It amazed me with plot puzzle pieces that should've never fit together and yet somehow seamlessly did. There is a frightening darkness in this story that sometimes was almost alive, it was so permeating, but then there would be these beautiful and tender moments that just would bring out the sun.
If one book can make me feel things so deeply, then it's a beautiful thing.