It is true that each book can have particular and individual effects on different readers. Michel Rostain’s debut will be a book that leaves each member of its audience with a little something, but each will vary greatly. I’ve always seen reading as a way of escaping our world, but I also see it as a way of connecting with our souls. In order to fully appreciate something we must connect with it at the most basic of levels – emotion.
It is emotion that connects us to artwork, or music, or writing. It doesn’t matter what emotion is experienced as long as you connect. Not everyone can look upon the same painting and feel the same outcome. And so certain stories will resonate with different perspectives. The story within The Son is one of parental bereavement and the foundation of grief is experienced differently from person to person.
Some may see within the startling depictions of loss, similarities between the cast and their own experiences, whether they be a grandparent, parent, or indeed, a child. Michel Rostain gets right to the point with his words, there is no preambling – we are launched directly into his characters misery. Where as so many books can be described as a rollercoaster ride or a journey, The Son is more of a plateau with a small ridge at the edge. This is a story of loss and only that, there can be no “happy ending” to such a story. Grief is almost eternal.
Of course, I speak from experience as a bereaved parent. My daughter didn’t die from disease as Lion, the titular son, did. She died due to an accident, due to a wrong time, wrong place situation. I can relate to nearly every nuance of sadness and madness that Rostain displays. This is, after all, partly autobiographical. His displays of the truth of his and his wife’s emotion is there for you to either relate or learn. Each low is exactly described with such a deft skill that those who haven’t yet lost somebody can open a window into a mind wracked with bewilderment.
I felt connected to Rostain in a way I have never felt with another author, but of course, this may be missed on other readers. But then, the similarities of symptoms are worldwide, we all grieve and so I believe that anyone can walk away from this novel with a connection.
The idea that Lion is narrating the book from beyond the grave is an interesting concept and one that plays the heartstrings with even more gusto. However, at times the emotion seems presumed, after all Lion is dead, he cannot know how his parents feel exactly. But then, we must remember that the writer has lived this tale. In that way, the book doesn’t sit as comfortably as I would like. But, this is a minor issue and one that perhaps I only picked up on due to my own life experience.
It is understandable why Rostain is an author on many lips. Aside from his obvious connection with his story, The Son shines for many other reasons. Most importantly is the writing style that is used and translated wonderfully by Adriana Hunter. Each sentence is generally clipped and staccato giving the underlying emotions that extra punch needed to drive home its message. One aspect that I loved, but may not please all readers, is the lack of separating situations. Many small anecdotes roll into one larger page of text in a stream of consciousness. This adds to the maddening feel of bereavement in how the mind marches back and forth from each tale and from important to the trivial.
On the rear of my proof copy of the book is the tagline “This is not a book about death. It’s a book about life”. To some extent this is true as it follows the living from the view of the deceased. However, it is more a book about what makes us who and what we are. How we are made and how fragile we are, no matter our size, stature or strength. It is a book about people.
Published by Tinder Press. This book was kindly sent by the publisher in exchange for a fair review.