Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Illusion of Separateness : A "What She Read" Review

Look inside at Amazon; find it at all the usual places.
What is it?
The richly textured and profoundly resonant new novel from Simon Van Booy.

Why is it unique?
Multiple voicings weave this novel of WWII Europe and contemporary America into a gorgeous chamber concert on the page, and its non-linear structure provides tension as we readers, invested in all its richly dimensional and concisely developed characters, solve the mystery of how they are all connected and how they've impacted each others' lives.  And for me, the fact that its title springs from the writings of Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is just icing on the proverbial cake.

Do you recommend it?
Yes, I do.  I gave it ***** on Goodreads, which is rare for me.

There are plenty of thoughtfully wrought novels out there, but few address such a crucial issue in our world today:  the illusion of separateness.  Our culture in the U.S., and quite a few other cultures in the world, emphasizes individuality and competition rather than interconnection.  This novel offers us a clear, utterly believable reality, sprung from a true story, that subtly demonstrates how each of us influences others, often in unintended and surprising ways.  Van Booy also takes care to chronicle only the pivotal moments and revealing reflections of his dimensional, imperfect characters' lives.  Thankfully, he is an expert craftsman, so we readers discover the truth of the title for ourselves, no preachyness or heavy-handed theme-pounding necessary.

For whom?
Mature teens and up who care about their world and who require excellent storytelling and characterization will admire this slim but resonant novel.  I will be recommending it to WWII buffs particularly, but I speak from personal experience when I say that those of us who aren't particularly devoted to that period will likely share my enthusiasm for this novel; I read it in a day because the writing and characters were so engrossing, but I kept kicking myself because I knew that savoring it chapter by chapter was my true desire.

Where can I find a copy?
It's available at Indiebound, Amazon, or your local bookseller.  You can find a Kindle version at Amazon, and you can get it on iBooks for your Apple products.  Want a peek at the prose?  Try the Amazon "Look Inside" feature for a sample.

What action will you take in response to this book?
I will write a short fiction based on a photograph.  It's been years since I dipped into fiction writing, and this book has inspired me.  (A photo provides one point of information and potential connection in this story, and is linked to one central plot line.)

And, as you might guess, I'm going to put all of Simon Van Booy's past works into my TBR pile.  I might even suggest The Illusion of Separateness for my book group, which is chock full of teachers who will thoroughly appreciate both its content and Van Booy's craft.

Once again, I'm indebted to the fine folks at TLC Book Tours for introducing me to this novel.  For additional responses to The Illusion of Separateness, you might hop by the other blogs on this tour.




As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I really liked this book, but I fell short of loving/admiring it, and I'm not certain why. I think my expectations were a little too high starting it, after hearing nothing but adulation for simon van booy from my bookseller friends.

Laurie said...

You know, it's not unusual for me to experience a similar let-down when I read a book that's been roundly praised. I'm glad that I had no preconceived expectations about this one!

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