I tend to avoid a lot of literary fiction because I am a reader who prefers a fast-paced story with a plot that moves and characters that leap off the page. This is not that story. However, it is beautifully done and patiently unravels the truth behind a small town tragedy.
It is wordy. I will be the first to admit that. But underneath lies this compelling tale of a family, one trying to piece together the broken fragments of their past so they can become whole.
Oliver Loving was a high school student when he became a victim of a school shooting. He has been in a coma for the past 10 years, while his family has struggled to come to terms with their survival, as one of their own is incapacitated. Father Jed is an alcoholic. Mother Eve is a shoplifter and no longer parents her other son, Charlie, a struggling writer trying to survive in Brooklyn. The story takes turns being told from everyone’s point of view, including Oliver, which I felt was a unique approach.
For those interested in neurological science, there are scenes from this book that are utterly fascinating, as everyone is trying to communicate with Oliver. Each character is fleshed out so well that I felt like I knew the Lovings personally and was spending time with them. The setting has a Friday Night Lights feel, small town Texas where everyone knows everyone.
Usually when you read about a tragic event, you read a story about that event. I really loved how this book was the aftermath of that and how everyone was coping (or not). It takes a talented writer to keep a reader interested when a story is so much about its characters. Block proved he is that talent.
My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author: Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Texas. His first novel, The Story of Forgetting, won Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas. The Story of Forgetting was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre and The Center for Fiction. The Storm at the Door is his second novel. He lives in Brooklyn.
Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader. U.S. only, please. Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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