The Short Review: A disappointing and bland look at addiction, recovery, and the ways we connect with other people.
The Long Review: I love a quiet, slow burn of a novel. My Name Is Lucy Barton, Gilead, Prodigal Summer; all books that took their time to tell the story, almost whispered it in your ear…but at the end, you knew it couldn’t have been told any other way. The Boatbuilder attempts to be this years quiet, slow read, but fails due to it’s plainness.
The story itself is fine. It felt like one of the better Hallmark movies, where they almost get it right and when you’re done, you think, “I could watch that again some day while cleaning the house.” But nothing really happens, and I didn’t feel like the relationships were explored enough to justify how little actually happens.
Speaking of relationships, I also didn’t feel like there was any real connection to the characters. They all seemed so lightly drawn that there wasn’t anything to cling to. I spent half the time wondering, why should I care about these people?
The most important part to a book like this. If there’s not much of a story, and the characters aren’t developed too much by the end, I at least need stellar prose. The writing in this book was so simple, I almost felt like I was reading the draft before the author infused his voice into the story. I’m fine with simple, plain prose. Pachinko, which I loved, was so understated in how it was written. There’s not an ounce of flowery language and it doesn’t give lush descriptions or ramble on about character insights…but it was so captivating and everything else was so great that it made sense for the writing to be that way.
You know what, this actually reminds me of the first time I read The Old Man and The Sea. I hated that book for how simple it was and how I felt like not a lot was going on. So, maybe I just didn’t get this one and I’m just now having an epiphany that I wasn’t smart enough for it, yet. Who knows…
Anyway, if you don’t like bare bones prose, a simple story, and simple characters, this book might not be for you. However, if you’ve read this and loved it, let’s please discuss it. I feel like I missed a whole lot and I wanted to like this book so much. Anyway, I hope you at least got something out of this review and i’ll be back with my review of A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley later this week!