When I read something like this, it shows me why I will never be a writer I liked the way it ended with I won t give anything away here something that the grandmother had mentioned to Charlotte and her cousin during the summer I liked the descriptions It had to have taken a lot of thought and a lot of research to create a book like this, and the efforts were evident on every page.
I am a little unsure how I feel about this book There is a lot here gun control issues, animal rights issues, pre teen drug alcohol use, multi generational relationships, etc I did appreciate that the initial defining moment a twelve year old girl accidentally shoots her father didn t go down the expected Janie s Gotta Gun apologies to Aerosmith road but I still didn t think the book was as good as it could have been It seems to me that many famous authors today could use slightly stronger editors the books are good but suffer from sections that drag or are incredibly repetitive Are the editors afraid of offending one of the prize writers This is one of those books that would really have benefitted from some strong trimming There were times I wanted to say, I get it, we don t need to dwell on this return to this I would only recommend this book to people who are already fans of Chris B or have strong feelings on gun control animal rights who might be interested in those angles of the story.
Chris Bohjalian, Bestselling Author Of Midwives, Presents His Most Ambitious And Multi Layered Novel To Date Examining Wildly Divisive Issues In Today S America With His Trademark Emotional Heft And Spellbinding Storytelling Skill On A Balmy July Night In New Hampshire A Shot Rings Out In A Garden, And A Man Falls To The Ground, Terribly Wounded The Wounded Man Is Spencer McCullough, The Shot That Hit Him Was Fired Accidentally By His Adolescent Daughter Charlotte With This Shattering Moment Of Violence, Chris Bohjalian Launches The Best Kind Of Literate Page Turner Suspenseful, Wryly Funny, And Humane Genre Domestic DramaPublisher Random HousePub Date Aug 9, 2005 Chris Bohjalian is one of my all time favorite authors However, this is not my favorite Bohjalian novel Actually, it is probably my least favorite Kindness is a character driven novel about the importance of family Later I will get to what I didn t like about the story I did enjoy the well developed characters The novel centers on a 70 year old grandmother, her two grown children, her children s spouses, and her grandchildren, two preteen girls and an infant boy The grown son and daughter grew up in their mother s luxurious apartment in NYC As children, they summered in their country home in New in Hampshire The family has owned both homes for generations We are talking old money here lots of it In the present, at the end of each summer, all three generations meet at the country home for one week of tennis, golf, the club, the pool, the beach, and summer cocktails I found the family drama interesting Both marriages are in trouble for different reasons Bohjalian does a good job of explaining what can happen when one of the husbands is obsessed with his work for animal rights And the other is feeling the strain of having a newborn in middle age The author does an excellent job of nailing down preteen dilemmas Out of the female granddaughters cousins, one is a bit shy of thirteen who desperately wants to be sixteen The other is a bit shy of eleven and her older cousin s tag along One night the female cousins go to a teenage bonfire where there is pot and beer Both girls get in way over their heads while their parents lost in their own dilemmas are clueless Before the reader even gets to know the family, the novel opens with a prologue describing the aftermath of a tragic accident involving a rifle As the tale progresses, we learn that the man who is shot no spoiler here is the father who is the animal rights activist as well as an advocate and lecturer for abolishing hunting These are two noble causes My issue with the author s narrative is that the characters often seem to have been forgotten so that he can write what feels like a lengthy paper on these social issues There is so much extensive detail on the subject, pages long worth that I found myself skimming If the master storyteller simply would have cut out some of the lecturing, this would have read like his usual novels, consisting of an interesting plot with believable, well fleshed out characters, rather than a close to boring term paper.
Find all my book reviews at This was mainly an author s attempt to turn a personal held political statement into a novel a wordy, boring, tedious, over long novel His personal rants became invasive after about 100 pages and this was a 400 page book I read for another 125 pages and could not take it any longer I don t mind reading other people s points of view even though different than mine but not when pretending to be fiction and not shoved forcefully down my throat with a sharp stick.
I really enjoyed Bohjalian s book Midwives but I just couldn t get interested in any of the characters in this book I pushed through it, thinking it would get better, but at the end, I still didn t care about any of these people.
I didn t really care for this book very much I didn t mind the slow pace that much What bothered me most was that the author failed to establish a separate and believable voice for each of his characters Even when the reader was privy to a character s thoughts, there was no intimacy in the way the character thought of or referred to a loved one, no language vocabulary appropriate to the character s age or personality Perhaps the author inserted his own voice too much into each character Anyway, I found myself unable to really care about any of the characters.
And another issue I had with the book is the author s portrayal of vegetarians, vegans, and animal rights activists The portrayals were pretty much all extremes, and when there are lots of stories told about such people, a story focusing on the extreme is accepted as just one story and not representative of all When there are relatively few stories told about a particular type of person, almost any story told will be read as a description in general of all people in that group I would say that most vegetarians voluntarily abstain from meat and don t secretly eat Slim Jims and nasty fast food hamburgers Most vegans don t lecture and berate other people about their food habits, and instead, make sure to bring their own food to social events so as not to make a scene for other people Most animal rights activists like and care about people as well as animals Bohjalian s book has the potential to create false stereotypes.
I m just going to come out and say it I really didn t like this book I picked it up because I really enjoyed Bohjalian s Midwives and although I disliked The Double Bind, I thought I d give him another chance I think this will be my last Bohjalian book, at least for a while.
The plot was somewhat interesting and could have been salvaged if it was approached differently But the story arc was so odd and didn t lead up to anything There was something that resembled a climax but that came very early on in the book The rest, both before and after the central event, was pretty much comprised exclusively of characters thinking things I got so sick of reading different characters thoughts And Bohjalian was so awful at describing these thoughts It felt like the whole book was just a stream of consciousness of each character He did nothing to alter his style when he described the thoughts of a 10 year old girl or a 70 something grandmother I found myself not believing a word anyone in the story was thinking.
There was also the fact that I found all of the characters very flat and boring None of them developed at all throughout the book And honestly, I kept getting them all confused because there was nothing distinct about any of them.
The last thing I m going to say is that Bohjalian included so much unnecessary description that got ridiculously boring and tedious to read He described the outfit of every new character he introduced as well as the main characters at each new scene He described each character s thoughts about the silliest things that didn t have anything to do with the plot and added nothing to the book A lot of the characters themselves added nothing to the book, and only served to confuse me because I kept forgetting who they were.
To sum up, I didn t like this book It took me forever to finish because I didn t like reading it I would not recommend it.
I wouldn t recommend this book to anyone The book had a slow start I stuck with it thinking that it would get better, but it dragged on on The problem with the book is that you already knew what was going to happen you think that there will be a climax but it maintains the same pace throughout When I finished this book I was just happy it was over.
I also had a hard time believing a fairly sheltered, reasonably self possessed, upper middle class Vermont living 10 year old TEN would happily, willingly suck down a beer and a half a joint under the most minimal of peer pressure, but, maybe I m just starry eyed I dunno The ten year olds I once worked with just would have wrinkled up their noses The middle school kids Absolutely.
The book may have worked a little better, actually, as a young adult book, if it had focused on the 12 year old , now that I think of it Well, whatever Like I saidmeh.