Tuesday, July 26, 2016

HEROES OF THE FRONTIER BY DAVE EGGERS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, this time of a new release that comes out today, Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a, advanced copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


I don't even know where to start with this book. I enjoyed it, but at the same time, I'm conflicted as to how I feel now that everything is over. If you've been reading my reviews for awhile, you will know that the only reason I don't give a book a star rating is when I either DNF'd it, or if I was so enthrallingly confused by it. In the case of this book, it is the latter.

In it's bare bones, this is the story of a woman, a dentist, who has just recently been sued by a patient, lost her practice in the process, and has decided to take her two children and drive around Alaska, avoiding the children's father who wants to introduce them to his new fiancee's family. Basically, life isn't going too great for Josie.

This story was told in third person limited, which, as it normally does, created a bit of a riff between reader and character. I found I had a hard time relating to Josie, her situation, sure, but herself as a person, as a character, not as much. She was judgemental and a little bit pessimistic. While I am in no position to comment, I found her style of parenting quite odd, but realistic. She would calculate what part of something her youngest, Ana would break, i.e. the chains on a play structure, but made no move to ensure that she didn't hurt herself. This is more of the parenting style I am used to, not this helicopter parenting/bubble-wrapped kid style we see more and more today. She was also a borderline alcoholic, if there is such a thing, and I found myself skimming her drunken observations.

Paul and Ana, the children were decent enough characters, but we didn't really see much from their perspective, only Josie's interpretations. They are cute kids who have learned to lean on one another, almost to Josie's dislike.

I do think this was a good book, despite the issues I have with the character(s). And I believe part of that enjoyment came from the writing style. It was so lyrical, so well thought out. It did take some getting used to, the writing was a little jarring at first, when I first started it later at night, I couldn't keep myself awake enough to full absorb the writing. Very much like the old saying, the journey is the destination, this book was more about the writing and diction, than it was the story itself and characters.

I mean, realistically, there wasn't a lot of craziness going on. Sure the ex-husband/boyfriend was a little abrasive, and there was some tension there, but it wasn't like Josie was dealing with a guy who was hunting down his kids to free them from their alcoholic mother. Everything was just so normal. Josie's issues with the parents at school, normal, running into trouble with her dentist practice, hopefully not common, but fairly normal.

There were even points where I almost DNF'd this book, because of the lack of plot development, but the writing kept me sucked in, and I found myself just wanting to see what happened day-to-day, not worrying whether or not their was a major plot development.

Sure, there was a bit of tension towards the end, would Carl come and hunt them down? How would they survive with the $84 Josie had left? How far behind would her children fall without being in school? Like the Alaskan forest fires that threatened from a distance, these were not immediate issues the rag-tag group faced. This story very much emphasized a live in the moment attitude, both to direct and indirect threats.

Overall, despite my minor issues, I did enjoy this book. It is definitely unlike any other book I have ever read.