Where's this book been?
by Richard Powers | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780393881141 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 2/21/2022
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, February 21, 2022
I found this hardcover in this Little Free Library in Nashua NH while dropping off some books of my own.

This was an acutely painful story, mixing intimate personal pain - a father attempting to cope with the tragic death of his wife and the increasing needs of his son (who's suffering some not-clearly-diagnosed mental and/or emotional problems) - with global trauma in the form of climate change, species extinction, factory-farm cruelty, and all-too-believable political stomping over individual rights and scientific advances.

The center of the story is young Robin, whose father has attempted to work with his school to cope with his in-class outbursts and his tendency to hyperfocus on things he likes and ignore everything else. The story opens with the two on a trip into the Appalachians, where Robin's able to appreciate the wildlife and the stars (his father's interest, as an astrobiologist) - but even then we see how careful his father has to be to avoid triggering the child.

The blurbs I'd read suggested that most of the story was set in this wilderness getaway, but that's not the case. They return home early on, only to have Robin's schooling interrupted by a violent encounter in which Robin injures a friend for something he said. His father is pretty much forced into home-schooling him, which works better for Robin but costs his father some capital at his job. And then a friend who had done some brain-mapping experiments in which Robin's mother had participated offers to bring Robin into the study. And lo! the experiments seem to give him much more control over his own emotions and roiling thought processes - and perhaps some kind of connection with his late mother, through her own mapping...

The story touches on many of the real-life challenges of rearing a child whose emotional control and intense perceptions are outside the normal range, with the difficulties of juggling career and parenthood. It also features heart-warming periods of connection: the father often describes the imaginary planets he's developed as part of his hopes of finding proof of life elsewhere in the galaxy, explaining them to his son in such detail that it feels as though they're actually observing real places. And the father does try to support his son when he wants to become an activist for animal rights - indeed, his empathy for the suffering of other living creatures is so extreme that it's near-crippling, until the experiments give him ways to help.

Early on in the book there's a nod to Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes' classic tale of a mentally retarded man who's given genius intellect via an experiment - only to have things go badly later on. This is a fairly heavy-handed foreshadowing, as it turns out, to the point where Robin himself becomes aware of it. But it's no less heart-breaking for all that, and left me feeling both wounded and angry. [The anger was in part the way the father - for all his love for his son and his attempts to do his best for him - kept fumbling the ball, all the way to the devastating climax.]

The book's well-written, involving, emotional, and thought-provoking, but I might also call it manipulative - so while I am glad I read it, I'm also a bit peeved {rueful grin}.

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, Forest Rd. in Wilton, New Hampshire USA on Monday, August 15, 2022

Released 1 mo ago (8/15/2022 UTC) at Little Free Library, Forest Rd. in Wilton, New Hampshire USA


I left this book in the Little Free Library; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2022 One Word Title challenge. ***

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