Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Awkward Book Review: THE 39 DEATHS OF ADAM STRAND

I know we usually make videos for our book reviews, but for the next several weeks the blog will be a bit wonky while Chris is traveling across the country. So, instead of a video, you get a picture of me holding our current review: THE 39 DEATHS OF ADAM STRAND by Gregory Galloway. And, of course, a written review to go with it. So, without further adieu...

Chris: I've been waiting for a new novel from Galloway for, at least, five years. I can only imagine what would've happened had I read AS SIMPLE AS SNOW when it first hit the shelves. I'd've been even more impatient. Because, honestly, Galloway is one of my favorite authors. Something about his writing simply clicks with me. However, I can see why this one hasn't been getting as "rave" of reviews as ASAS.

This one isn't for everyone, and for some, I think it will piss them off, not only from the subject matter and how it's treated, but also because the main character can easily be seen as unchanging or unsympathetic. But, to me, if that's what you take away from this thing, I feel like you missed the point. 

This book hit me, hard, harder than anything I've read in recent years. Seriously, I was sobbing through the last 30+ pages. As I said before, his writing simply "clicks" for me, and in this instance, it wasn't so much a click as it was a punch in the face, gut, and heart all simultaneously.

Maybe it's just the time I read this, and had it been a few months earlier or later, it wouldn't have affected me as it did, but it is what I needed in that moment. And even if the majority of the world does not respond kindly or even care about this book, for those of us that it does hit, this book is absolutely necessary.

I can only hope that one day I get to meet the author and can thank him, personally, for his writing and this book in particular.

Holly: You could say I cheated a bit with 39 DEATHS because I didn't read it...It was read to me. By Chris. That's right. My co-writer reads me books. Even books that are over 300 pages long. And no, you can't have him...he's all mine. That being said...I think I got an even deeper perspective from the book by listening to it. Galloway has an uncanny ability to turn the setting into a character in-and-of-itself. This book, for me, was not just a portrait of depression (I'll make that point later) but that of being a teen in a small town. And through hearing his words as they were spoken to me, I got such a vivid image of a place that the MC felt very trapped in. Coming from a small town, I'd been there before. I'd felt the pain of reliving the same day so many times over with the same people I'd known since the third grade. It really hit home.

The deeper part of this novel was how Galloway handled depression, though. He didn't romanticize it like so many writers have before him. I know, I know...If you've read the blurb, it clearly states that the MC, Adam, is not depressed. But I think that line, in particular, shows just how much about depression this book really is. Because depression has a way making you live in denial of it's mere existence.  At times depression disguises it'self as extreme boredom. At times it's a wanting to fall asleep and never wake up...or to do something so dangerous and daring because you simply don't value the life you have. It can make you apathetic to the concerns of friends and family and can drive people away. Galloway explores all of these feelings and more through Adam. He doesn't paint a pretty picture but, instead, gives us a window into something real. Being someone who, myself, has become insufferable through my suffering with depression, I appreciate this honest portrayal of an illness many still do not understand. 

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