AT A GLANCE:
Genre: Classics, Literary
Length: 284 pages
Excellent example of narration enhancing story. Highly recommended.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have to admit, this book was extremely hard to start. It took nearly a month for me to fight through the first fifty or so pages, but I’m so glad I did. Once I finished, this book immediately made it to my top ten list.
Without spilling anything, I loved the internal struggle of the characters as they decide how much to give, what they can take, what they share, what they keep to themselves, and what they really want for themselves. None of these characters were too dependent, even though the nurses in the book dismiss them as such. There are the Chronics and the Acutes, and though the Chronics drift in the background, they are distinct, even in their emptiness. As a reader, I knew they existed, but I also knew they just didn’t matter, even though I struggled to make them matter. The characters who demanded attention were the ones who got it, both for me and for the characters in the book.
The writing brilliantly parallels the plot, which affects the reader’s understanding of the characters and the situations they find themselves in. The beginning of the book dragged for me because that was what life was like for the characters. I hated the beginning and just wanted to quit, but I felt stuck – just like the characters.
Once m begins to laugh, I began to feel uncomfortable. The laughter doesn’t belong in the ward, and it doesn’t belong in the book. As Chief, the narrator, becomes more attentive and participatory, so did I.
When the characters go on their field trip and begin to laugh for the first time, I found myself laughing as well. I’d been bored the first part of the book – stuck in the asylum – but once the characters got out, so did I.
Even when they return, something is different. There’s a fellowship formed between the Acutes (and Chief) that wasn’t there before, and I felt like I was a part of that group.
The rest of the story plays out exactly as it needs to. While I hoped for the best, I knew that there wouldn’t be a happy ending, at least in the traditional sense. It just isn’t that kind of book. And I love it all the more because of that.