The first sentence in this book is just three words: “Lydia is dead”. This beginning and much more in this fine book is reminiscent of The Lovely Bones. Lydia is the 16 year-old daughter of a mixed race American-Chinese family in the 1970s. Her unexplained death causes the family to disintegrate from the pain of uncertainty and grief. The back story unfolds effortlessly – issues of race and identity politics, and the secrets from not speaking their minds. This is a very powerful and compelling book; be prepared for some profound sadness at times.
Most of you know that I rarely read non-fiction, but this book was a very rewarding excursion into the world of non-fiction literature. MacDonald has written a really excellent book with three interacting themes: (i) the human emotion of grief precipitated by the the death of her father, with a detailed description of her emotional paralysis; (ii) an intense human-bird relationship because she decides to train a goshawk as a coping mechanism; and (iii) an examination of the author TH White who had a tortured life and wrote a book about training a goshawk in the 1930s. (TH White wrote the exceptional novel called The Once And Future King, a book that I rank in the top-ten books that I have read in my entire life). MacDonald’s book is wonderfully introspective about both the psychology of humans and birds, and the physiology of birds in relation to flight. A section of the book about the shared responsibility of hunting and killing is truly remarkable. This is a great read.
There are two fine elements in this book. First, it is a BC book: Prince George, tree planting, Vancouver Island. The description of the physical environment is excellent. And second, this is a guy book, with a well-described look at male relationships, especially a father-son relationship with communication issues at its core. Overall, a very good read.
This is a cracking good mystery, with misinterpreted observations, deceit and lies (intentional and unintentional). The writing is reminiscent of Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, et al) with two time lines that precede and follow an apparent crime. The main character in this novel is delightfully flawed, a real train wreck.
This is a quiet novel about love and loss, regret and contrition, and the aftermath of war. This is Humphreys’ 3rd novel set in WWII (Coventry, and the sublime The Lost Garden): each of them is different and perceptive. Humphreys is becoming one of my favourite authors.
A beautifully written story in the aftermath of WWI, in particular secrets and silence because of with-holding conversations, and the toxicity of internalizing grief. This is a companion story to Itani’s brilliant earlier novel Deafening. Itani is a Canadian literary treasure.
(thanks to Amy/Steph). Really excellent writing; book was read in one setting so clearly I was engaged by the story. The book describes the experience of the author’s life together with her brother, and details after his death. Perhaps I was primed by the [Miriam] Toews AMPS [All My Puny Sorrows] but I have a personal preference for introspective and insightful writing. Humphreys captures the cruelty of disease and the numbness of grief. She writes: fear the worst because the worst has happened” (first Matthew and then Anne).