Friday, September 30, 2011
Book Review: "Everything Beautiful Began After" by Simon Van Booy
I fell in love with Simon Van Booy's mesmerizing short story collection, Love Begins in Winter, when I read it in 2009, and it was among my favorite books of that year. His first novel, Everything Beautiful Began After, approaches love and relationships in a wholly different way, and although it didn't resonate with me as much as his short story collection, Van Booy's writing continues to transfix me.
Rebecca is a former flight attendant and an aspiring artist on the run from life. George is a loner and student of foreign languages who spends most of his days drunk and wishing for companionship. Henry is an archaeologist who has never allowed himself to get completely close to someone because of a tragedy that happened in his childhood. The three young people meet in Athens one summer, and their encounters with each other change their lives profoundly. This is a story about the peculiarities of friendship, the beauty of love, the overwhelming paralysis that accompanies grief and fear, and finding the courage to embark on a new start.
This book was beautifully written and tremendously compelling, yet I didn't feel as much of an emotional connection with the book in its entirety. Each of the characters were complex in their own way, but despite the range of emotions and events that affected each, I never quite warmed to them, and I found the crisis that one character went through toward the end of the book to be a bit excessive. But Van Booy's storytelling ability kept me reading because I was blown away by his use of language. I definitely liked this book, but didn't quite love it as much as I hoped I would. It's worth a read, but read Love Begins in Winter first.