Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My review on On Beauty

I've did longer to finish this one than I thought I would, because I actually loved it. Of course the humongous beast from Heinlein which I reviewed earlier kind of came between me and this novel because I read most in bed and when it's cold I prefer my e-reader because it only needs one finger from under the duvet instead of an entire hand.

On Beauty was very beautifully written. It's the first I've read of Zadie Smith, but already I have recommended her to fellow readers because she isn't as known here as she is on her own island.

The story revolves around a family of five. They are the center of their universe with friends, foes and strangers circling around them as they try to make sense of the live they lived and make peace with decisions they made themselves or with the consequences of decisions made by others.
It's quite a lenghty book to be told of the life of one family but mostly due to the style Zadie uses it keeps the story fresh and is capable of hooking you right in when emotions run high.

In a characterdriven novel as this, it's normal to have your favourites. In my case I am in team Howard, the husband and father to three adolescent kids, even though he made the most terrible choices and I regularly had the urge to slap him upside the head for his stupidity, but he felt the most humane and normal human being in this novel. I'm not even close to being married for 30 years, but I can see it is something that can drive you crazy and make you do stupid stuff if you're not careful.

Kiki, the wife and mother, seems a little too black and white for me. She didn't seem to have any faults, the one thing the author kept focusing on was her lack of aspiration. She seemed to think that a life spend loving her husband and kids was a life maybe spend in vain, but I think it's the most beautiful someone can give. How many of us are capable just to love and not worry about all the rest?
I know I would love more openly if I hadn't a million other things to worry about.

Beside the parents, there's also Jerome, Zora and Levi in order of age, Jerome being the eldest. As it is sometimes with kids, Jerome chooses a path both his mother and father didn't see coming.
Levi also doesn't choose the easy path his father and mother tried to pave for all their children.
The only one coming close to the expectations they had for their children, is their daughter Zora, and she is filled with opposites. As she is determined to get a say in everything that affects her, on the other hand she is very selfconscious which she doesn't dare to show to the outside world.

All five of them need to learn to live with each others, their own choices and the choices their loved ones make, but Zadie Smith knitted this story so well together that it almost feels like you're right there with them.