Whew! I completed the second week of my consulting gig and believe me, I am tired. I'd forgotten what a set schedule can do to a person. I mean, who gets up before 11am?
Oh, right. I do now.
Anyway, I finished reading a fantastic novel this week titled, The Story of Forgetting.
Told from two perspectives that are at once nearly polar and intimately linked, this astounding debut captures an air of the fantastical while presenting one family's heartfelt battle with Alzheimer's. Seth Waller is a 15-year-old Austin, Tex., science nerd determined to discover the reason behind his mother's recent mental breakdown. Abel Haggard, living on his family farm just past the Dallas suburbs, is an aging recluse roiled by memories of his one true love: Mae, his brother Paul's wife. The two had a torrid affair while Paul served in Korea, forcing Mae to conceal the paternity of her baby when she became pregnant. Both Seth and Abel speak of a fantasy land named Isidora, which exists outside of our physical world, but which becomes a common thread in piecing this delicately woven story together. Each character is a product of a different time and place, but as Seth delves deeper into his scientific investigation and Abel's troubled life is further revealed, the two stories meet in an emotional and memorable climax. Block displays an innate gift for developing believable characters each with his own distinct voice. The result is a story that's compulsive and transporting.
Though sometimes highly scientific, the story, with its tense subject matter and character interactions, moved at a terrific pace. I remained riveted from the first page onward. The interjections of Isidora, a fairytale passed down through generations, flowed along the main plot like a bubbling stream winding through a meadow.
From a writing perspective, the technique was clean and effective. I felt like I knew the characters and empathized with them at every step.
A word of caution – this book is not for a young audience. There are mature themes as well as lengthy descriptions of a disease that kills mental function at an early age.
This is author Stephan Merrill Block's debut novel. Amazing.