Updated: Sep 15, 2022
I preface this review with an observation. I am a private pilot, authorized to operate a single-engine aircraft as pilot-in-command. And yet, I teeter on the edge of terror whenever I board a commercial aircraft. I know how everything works. I recognize and know the origin of each odd sound that emanates from this improbable flying aluminum cylinder, and I appreciate the meteorological conditions that affects each flight. In my mind, I know that flying is safe, but it is a single negative experience, on a flight over 20 years ago, where passengers were momentarily pinned to the ceiling of said aluminum cylinder, that causes my heartbeat to rise each time I buckle my seatbelt.
Why do I share this? Because I can relate, in a small and respectful way, to the plight of Eddie Adler in this novel. Other reviewers have created a summary of this book that does it complete justice. Reading it is like having your life torn apart into tiny pieces before the author and these characters help you to find a way of putting them back together again.
Each and every character in this book (Eddie, Jordan, Bruce, John, Lacey, Shay, Besa, Benjamin, Florida, Linda, Veronica… the list goes on and on) struggles with the same singular thing: control. How does one exercise internal willpower to effect a positive change on oneself and the people around him or her? Especially when the circumstances resist our every noble effort, and we fool ourselves into believing that time is an infinite commodity.
While the story itself was simply anguishing at times, it was having knowledge as a reader that the characters themselves did not yet know about that created a compelling narrative and perspective. The author crafted a diverse set of stories from every conceivable vantage point (gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, age) and brought them together in a cohesive way that helped me appreciate, only after turning the last page, how that singular struggle, control, affects us all, no matter where we are in life.
I return to the beginning of this review, which is admittedly beginning to feel more like a personal essay, but I offer that any book which makes you think and appreciate things at this deep level is one worthy of reading. I love being a pilot but not a passenger. In the end, I wonder if that irony stems from the same thing that each character struggles through in this novel: control. Or the perception of it.
It is not what happens to us that matters. It is how we respond to what happens to us that has the greatest impact on our lives and the people around us. And that is the beautiful message serving as the foundation of this impactful story which has new dreams and motivation taking flight.
Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️
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