Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: Fault Lines by Nancy Huston

Fault Lines
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Disturbing doesn't quite cover it. Painful and uncomfortable to read is more like it. This is a book that confronts taboo subjects head on...all the meanwhile breaking into the readers comfort zone. If this is what the author was trying to accomplish, then it did so in the first five pages. The book not only takes you out of your comfort zone, it challenges what you believe in, societal schemes, childhood and the basic idea of the innocence of a child.

The novel is told from four different viewpoints, different family members in their history when they were 6 year old. Sol (2004) is a child that is not only is brilliant, he is terrifyingly aware of the world. His soul and his childhood have been corrupted by the media, the news, the internet, sex and the war. He has a God complex and truly believes he is God, that sun rises because of him. The mere psyche of this child is corrupted beyond repair. He watches and enjoys scenes of death, rape, sex, mutilation, war, etc. This is a boy that assumes no responsibility for himself save for his misguided, self-serving and narrow view of the world as his stomping ground. This is the hardest par of the book to get through. I almost stopped reading.

Randall (1982) (Sol's father) is a six year old that has learned to live with an absentee mother and a loving father. His mother is obsessed with finding her roots and the truth of her mother's upbringing in Nazi Germany. In time, they move to Israel where she continues her research. There he is confronted with discrimination, war, living in a society that he does not understand and the difficulties of his parent's marriage. Randall is a boy that feels the weight of the world in his shoulders, he feels responsible for what happens and is afraid that he cannot understand what is happening in the world.

Sadie (1962) (Randall's mother) is a six ear old girl that believes she is evil and dirty. She is raised by her grandparents in a rather strict manner. It is understandable why she becomes a perfectionist. She is a girl looking for approval and the love of her mother, who left her in the care of her grandparents when she was a baby. She feels unwanted, and unloved.

Kristina (1944-5) (Sadie's mother) is from Germany and must deal with the realities of the war (WWII), her families and the secrets that are kept from her. This part of the book is not only interesting; it is sad, heartfelt and very good, the only part of the book that interested me. This is quite the beautiful story, especially when to tie it back to earlier stories told in the book.
Frankly, I am rarely fazed by taboo subject or gore (yay zombies) but, this book made me uncomfortable. This book was rather painful to read. It is not a light read by any means. Rather, it is an exploration of all that is corrupt and vile, of abandonment, love, secrets and family. I don't really understand how this became a best seller. I don't mind being taken out of my comfort zone, but at least give me a good reason (aka a good story) to justify it. The last 50 or so pages were not justification enough. But, it is interesting to see how the lives of these 6 year old kids change according to the times, along with their awareness of the world.

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