The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First of all, the language, emotions, and moods in this book are beautiful. In particular, I liked how the book approached and tried to explain the feelings of grief, otherness, and loneliness. How otherness can make you lonely and how loneliness can make you other. How family and family history affect both. How losing family makes you both. The feelings involved in trying to carry family even when they refuse to be helped.
There are a lot of things going on in this book. The book alternates the perspective of Simon in the first person present with the story of a carnival family in third person past tense. The two parts inform the story and move it along. In the present, Simon's problems layered on top of each other in a way which made me understand the character and his motivations without stressing me out. Simon's problems and challenges kept me interested and involved. The book is also filled with magical realism in the past story, carried into the present by the mysterious book seller.
Finally, the characters, especially the modern-day characters are very real to me. I feel Simon's restless laziness and quiet desperation. I love love love the character Doyle. I love to hate Frank. Even the mother, a ghost at the beginning, is filled in through the other character's longings for her.
P.S. I also like this cover that tells you a bit more about the book:
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