This book was a complete disappointment. At first, I wasn’t going to read it. I read the summary and it didn’t sound particularly captivating. Yes, it did have an award, but considering the great number of terrible books that have won awards recently, it hardly meant anything. Later on, though, I looked at it again because I had enjoyed other books by the author and wanted to give it a chance. I read the summary again and was attracted to it for two reasons. The first was the mention of Burl, the main character, and the maestro slowly becoming friends and the second was that Burl supposedly uses his intelligence and understanding of people’s minds to meet his goals. What I imagined from this, was that the book was going to be about how Burl slowly wins the friendship of the maestro, using his way with people, and eventually they would become a family of sorts. Neither of them were happy with their lives, I learned when I began the book, and I thought that this friendship would help them live. The book summary even says, “Slowly but surely, the two form a bond.” Is this bond the focus of the story? Does it even exist? Nope and nope. In fact the two of them only know each other for a single day. How is Burl supposed to slowly form a bond with the maestro in a single day?
So what about the second thing that convinced me to give this book a second chance? Well, Burl’s manipulation of people, I suppose, was present to a point, but this was much more satisfyingly carried out in The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict. In this book, it was quite enjoyable to watch Nicholas outmanoeuvre all the predicaments he had to face with his wit and intelligence. Burl’s actions produced no such feelings.
Not only did the book not meet up to the expectations that its summary suggested, but it did not do anything to make the reading of it worthwhile. Often I’ve read the summary of a book expecting one thing and received another, but even though these books are not what I expected, they are nevertheless enjoyable. I think that the word best suited to describe this book would be ‘unsatisfying’ and this is best shown in its ending. The focus of this book is how Burl tries to get the maestro’s cabin and he eventually learns that the way he can do this is by finding the music that the maestro was writing the day he met them. However, the author decides to make it impossible to get this music do to a plot twist, which renders Burl’s meeting with the maestro meaningless. To top off the unsatisfying ending of this book is the last paragraph: “It was only then that Burl noticed that someone had found him a real pair of shoes. They seemed quite new, and they fit him well.” This last paragraph show exactly how underwhelming this books is. If the author had just chosen to let Burl get the music then there could have been some purpose of Burl having met the maestro and the ending would have been better. It seems as though the author was trying to make this book as realistic as possible by giving it as untidy an ending as possible. In reality it is true that not every single interaction is meaningful, but if you’re writer and you have the power to make things make sense, why wouldn’t you? I don’t mean that every book should be ridiculously wonderful and happy, realism is an important factor for making a book believable, but I think that all books should have some purpose. Ending a book with some random mention of shoes as though you were just writing the everyday constant thoughts that go through a person’s head is meaningless. Maybe these shoes have some deep meaning, but there are no clues beforehand to suggest why they should mean anything at all.
Overall, I regret wasting the part of my life used to read this book and I would not recommend it to anyone. This author is not a bad one, though, and I would recommend that you try reading his short story collections.
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