What an elegant idea. The aloneness and close-but-not-quite relationships are perfectly captured in this title.
Each of the two protagonists in this novel makes a life-changing decision in their childhood. The tragedies that befall them as the result cast them into an isolation that nothing can break through, not even family, or perhaps, especially not family. The two of them meet up in their youth, drawn to each other without knowing the grief that lies in the other. In their adult life, they are apart, both wondering where and how the other fits.
The author uses a subtle way of telling the story. He doesn't belabor the emotional state of the characters but trusts that readers will deduce from the details he has provided. It works very well for the story.
This subtlety, of not spelling out the intended conclusion for the reader, didn't serve me as well for the ending. In the last quarter of the book, the plot picks up, suggesting a strong possibility of a particular type of resolution. Until that point, I was willing to go with the author, to see where he will take the story. With those events in the plot, I started thinking about an either-or solution. Not only was I disappointed in the direction that took me, but I was also frustrated by how the story actually ended.
I don't always need conclusions to be drawn and themes to be spelled out. I love endings that leave me wondering. But this ending wasn't one of those.
The reason, I believe, is that I don't think the relationship between the two protagonists have been shown convincingly enough for me. Because of that, it fell into a standard will-girl-get-back-with-boy plot rather than will-two-prime-numbers-who-are-misunderstood-by-the-world-find-each-other-and-how-will-their-lives-be-connected-if-at-all.
I got the pain and sorrow and guilt each one of the protagonists feels. I got their feelings of not belonging. I just never got the nature of the tie between them or how strong or unique it was. And that's the reason I didn't feel that the ending worked for me.
A movie is being made/has been made based on the book. And I think it may work better. Chemistry between people can be shown on screen much more effectively than on the page. Wonder if it'll be the case of this story.
This is the first review I've written since my post in which I declare myself no longer a slave to fear. Okay, maybe it's less dramatic than that.But I do want to share more of the things about books that give me pause. If only for the reaction I get from others who have read it.
So my question to you, my friends, is this: which is your reaction?
- "Oh, well. I'll probably skip the book."
- "Hmm. I wonder if I'll get it more clearly than she did. Let me read it to find out."
- "Not sure if I understand her problem with the book."
- Other. Please describe.