Monday, 23 July 2007

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

This coming-of-age journey of a boy, David, who lost his mother to death, was a very difficult book to read in public places. At numerous points in the story, I had stop reading because I was afraid I couldn't control myself from bursting into unstoppable tears.

Somehow, this simple but cleverly crafted tale struck many raw nerves for me. Maybe because it was about a boy, who might be the same age as my son is now. Maybe it was about the loss of childhood but the attainment of the wisdom and kindness that might come from suffering if one learnt to grow up by facing one's fears. Whatever it was, I came away feeling that John Connolly wrote a mighty fine book that was imaginative, emotional and enlightening.

This book had none of the hovering writer's presence that I felt in reading John Connolly's book of short stories, Nocturnes. Once I started on the first sentence, I was immediately transported into David's world, entering his experiences, his mind and emotions. Though it seems a typical story about a child who loses a much-loved parent, and having to come to terms with living with a new mother and half-brother when his father remarries, The Book of Lost Things does not fall into the trite or cliche. As a real war with the Germans rages about him, a battle on his mind begins. There is never any doubt that David is slowly losing hold of this world and will enter into the world where stories come alive. When he hears books whispering to him and he falls into fits where he loses consciousness with increasing frequency, David eventually and inevitably hears his mother calling to him to save her. He decisively follows the voice and enters another realm where he walks the path of the Hero's Journey, battling monsters and facing his inner demons.

Throughout the book, I felt myself understanding more and more the message that John Connolly wanted to send but I never felt he was didactic or overbearing in putting it across. Instead, the Hero's Journey that David experiences enriches Connolly's moral-of-the-story. As David grows in understanding and courage, so too the sorrowful yet comforting feeling that this is truly the best way. That if a child should lose his innocence, it would best be lost to be replaced with these best qualities that might be born from suffering: to become a loving person with a forgiving heart; to be protective to those who might be weaker and even fair to the wicked. David ends his journey becoming such a person and more! How wonderful it would be for a mother to see her child grow to be such a fine young man!

I truly enjoyed reading this book, even though I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions, and ended up tearing or weeping many times over.

No comments: