I am a great fan of Sebastian Faulks work. Although we will all form attachments to particular books, he rarely disappoints and within the body of his work he has set the bar wonderfully high. However, as a ‘novel in five parts’, I’m not sure ‘A Possible Life’ works. The writing is superbly crafted and the sweep of the book is clearly ambitious, but seems most effective as five short stories. Certainly, for me the ‘novel’ is not greater than the sum of its parts, which is disappointing, but should not detract from the quality of the writing, which is at times sumptuous. I intend to read it again, in case I am doing the book an injustice, but I would encourage anyone to make the effort, in any case.
I picked this up while browsing a charity shop’s offerings and notwithstanding my son’s obervation that he had noticed it in the teen section of a nearby bookshop, stuck with it. And I’m glad I did. A good story can afterall be compelling, irrespective of the ‘target audience’ and in August Pullman, Palacio developed a very unlikely, but wonderful hero. The story is cleverly related from a number of different perspectives and engagingly ripples outward from August to family, classmates and wider community and the respective challenges faced by the protagonists. Indeed, the book confronts the discomfort experienced by individuals and in some cases the surrendering to ugly bigotry and crude discrimination. The central theme relates to the judging of books by their covers, but encourages the reader to look beyond the superficial. Moreover, any book that can draw a reader to empathise and contemplate what s/he might do in a given situation and provoke soul-searching is worth the effort. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Wonder’, the language is straightforward and the message is simple. Doing the right thing is sometimes hard, yet as R.J Palacio describes, it can be uplifting. Want a lift – read this study in positive action!