Best reads 2007: Janet van Eeden

2007-11-28 00:00

I’ve read three books which I couldn’t put down. The first was Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes, a nail-biting deconstruction of a school shooting in the United States. This novel was especially absorbing as I’ve long been intrigued by the phenomenon of school shootings in the States. Picoult’s examination of a shy, sensitive child who is bullied until he turns into a calculating young man who has lost respect for the lives of those who hurt him is chillingly compelling.

I loved Bridget McNulty’s Strange Nervous Laughter. Set in a steamy, sticky Durban during one of the hottest summers ever, the world the characters inhabit is as real as the characters are quirky. McNulty uses magic realism to create metaphors of meaning which greatly enhance the read. Always surprising, constantly enchanting, this was one of my most enjoyable reads of the year.

Lastly, Sebastian Faulks’s novel, Eagleby, was deeply engrossing. Once again, the protagonist is an intriguing character with a bit of a problem. Eagleby has above average intelligence which ejects him from his working class background when he wins a scholarship to one of the classic English public schools. Unfortunately he too is bullied and he develops an unusual way of coping. Faulks has created a charismatic character who doesn’t quite lay all his cards on the table. It keeps you absorbed until the very last page.

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