My mom found this book at a thrift store for 50c and picked it up because it had won the PEN/Faulkner Award and hey, it might be good. My mother has had rotten luck with picking books because they’ve won awards, and I won’t let her forget it. She got me Three Junes for Christmas one year (along with some other, actually decent, gifts) because it won the National Book Award and it turned out to be the absolute bar none worst book I’ve ever read. Perhaps the award was based on the book’s absorbency and general goodness in the butt-wiping department. Anyhow.
I started reading this on the bus on the way home from Vermont. I needed some light reading, and I’d feverishly finished The Dante Club so I could leave it for my mama. The synopsis on the back cover of this book indicated that it was about a terrorist kidnapping of some fancy party guests – including an opera singer. It’s sort of a misleading synopsis in a sense, especially the following sentence: “Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion… and can not be stopped.”
I would like to say that there is nothing in this book that is “scary ellipsis” worthy. I see those three little dots and I think “murderer lurking in the corner.” You can pretty much hear those dots in the trailers for any action movie. “She thought it was just an ordinary day… but it wasn’t.” See? You put in the dots and then it’s scary. And there’s nothing in this book that warrants that.
Appropriately, for a book about music, this book reads like music. Which is to say that it has a certain flow. It’s melodic. It’s also a bit like water, pulling you down the stream in a gentle current. I’m talking more “mountain stream” than “white water rafting” here. It’s beautiful and about the easiest book to flow in and out of that I’ve ever read. I had no problem stopping in the middle of a page, putting it down, helping a two year old use the potty, and picking it back up again twenty minutes later. It’s just like listening to a symphony, putting it on pause, and coming back again right where you started. It just picks up and moves along and carries you with it.
It’s a really wonderful book and I’m glad that I serendipitously got a chance to read it. Sometimes, with stuff you find randomly (or stuff my mother finds, as the case may be), you get some real crap. And sometimes, you find a gem. This book is like finding a little piece of gold in the bottom of a stream.
And while it may be about an opera singer and not a cellist, I somehow associate this book with Yo-Yo Ma. Maybe it’s just because he’s awesome.