Three days ago, when I finished this book, I was about to open up my laptop and start writing about it. But I couldn't. It hit too deep. Something would have been very wrong about spewing words as representations too soon after impact. I needed to heal first.
I have to admit that the character development in this book is pristine. I think I fell in love with Phineas several times. I'll probably retain a lingering literary crush on him for a very long while. What a human! Without spoiling the book for those who haven't read it, here's my quick assessment.
The technique of starting with a vivid, nostalgic narration really draws the reader into the rest of the book. I needed to know about the stairs and the tree! It's a beautiful way to create dramatic question, but it also makes fort a gut-wrenching read. Not because it splatters violence and crudity on every page, but because it's real, raw, and unresolved. The realism here punctures something in the human spirit, destroying something that we long for, leaving us groping in the darkness for that something that was lost. John Knowles nails it with word choice every time. He's not verbose or irritating, and his precision is a mark of his conceptual genius in creating emotions and characters.
Definitely not for the faint of heart, but it's worth reading for all the truth and aching beauty.