FIRST SENTENCEs: When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day.
MOTIVATION for READING: See prior post.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: An old man awaits death but has a fierce hope that he has a few connections yet to play. And boy-howdy! do those coincidental connections get set into motion – some are missed, some are vibrant and kicking, all are heart-breaking. We have a young girl named Alma who is actively on a search but for what exactly, she is unsure. And her little brother, Bird has his own mission to fulfill. It’s a book about a book, too, and how a book can have very impactful meaning. And don’t let me forget the elephants!
“He learned to live with the truth. Not to accept it, but to live with it. It was like living with an elephant. His room was tiny, and every morning he had to squeeze around the truth just to get to the bathroom. To reach the armoire to get a pair of underpants he had to crawl under the truth, praying it wouldn’t choose that moment to sit on his face At night, when he closed his eyes, he felt it looming above him.”
SYMBOLISM: I am a symbolism geek. I can’t say I’m particularly skilled at identifying or evaluating meaning but I love find these gems in literature. For me, the elephants in tHoL loomed large. Of course, it wasn’t until the second elephant was mentioned that I started to notice them lurking in the story. You might say an elephant would be hard to hide, wouldn’t you? Ah, but when they are imagined, are they real?
The elephant in the room — I mean novel — was how huge the effect of love is on our lives. And just how we avoid that elephant in the room is how we fail to recognize the power of love and misuse it so often. And how personal love is. Love is truth.
SPOILERS… (just highlight to read, I’ve changed font color to white to hide.)
Leo loves Alma. That horrid war, the atrocities by the Nazis inflicted on the Jews of Eastern Europe interrupts that love, sort of. Alma escapes to the US and assumes Leo is killed. Not only Alma assumes this, but so does Zvi. Zvi is holding Leo’s book for safekeeping. Oh the tragic story line that is Zvi! and the decision made by Rosa. (insert knife, twist.) Then there’s Alma’s parents; her mother. The original Alma and her decision.
END of SPOILERS…
Now that I think of it, the women in the book do not come off looking very good.
WHAT I LIKED: Most everything. WHAT I didn’t LIKE: Nothing I can think of right now. For me, everything worked.
“I remember the first time I realized I could make myself see something that wasn’t there. I was ten years old, walking home from school. Some boys from my class ran by shouting and laughing. I wanted to be like them and yet. I didn’t know how. I’d always felt different from the others, and the difference hurt. And then I turned the corner and saw it. A huge elephant, standing alone in the square. I knew I was imagining it. and yet. I wanted to believe.
So I tried.
And I found I could.”
I would use the word sublime but it’s not in my vocabulary. The word just doesn’t sound right to me but I like the definition.
RATING: Five slices of pie.
SUBLIME – exalted elevated noble lofty, awe-inspiring majestic magnificent glorious superb wonderful marvelous splendid fantastic fabulous terrific heavenly divine out of this world.
p.140 – dai ruku – in Russian познай самого себя – in English “Know Thyself”
p.186 – denuded – laid bare, strip,clear, deprive, bereave, rob, uncover, expose
p.205 “Fools and weeds grow without rain.” (new to me; I like)
Mrs. B at The Literary Stew read this and reviewed the same day I did! (And it is excellent.) Coincidence?!
and another great review at BiblioJunkie with a character chart (and spoilers) but well done and informative.
Link to the Book Blog Search Engine for this title.