Quick review for a progressive read. It’s hard to describe my reactions to this novel, because, on one hand, this is quite apt to Melina Marchetta’s style of writing – strong characterizations, compelling family-centered stories, and emotional revelations on the topics she touches upon (particularly with respect to race, violence, prejudice, etc.) I enjoyed the journey this novel took me on for the most part, even as it handed down its revelations progressively rather than in one felt swoop like the magnitude of the crime(s) this book centers upon.
It took me quite a while to get into this novel, and there’s a large cast of characters within this narrative to keep track of. Hence why the pacing feels like it crawls in sections of the novel, but on the whole of things, this is a powerful novel with more of a focus on the people who are caught within these tragedies/mysteries.
Bish is a suspended inspector whose daughter is among the victims of a bus bombing. Although his daughter isn’t hurt, Bish learns that a young woman whom he’d encountered many years before is at the center of suspects surrounding the bus bombing: Violette LeBrac. His journey to not only find Violette but determine who was behind the bombing takes him to many places and uncovers many difficult situations in Bish’s own past. Other major characters include Bee, Bish’s daughter, Violette, who struggles to maintain her own innocence despite the fact her mother and other members of her family were charged in a bombing that took several lives years before; Noor LeBrac, Violette’s mother and a complex character in her own right – reluctant to help Bish, but it’s clear she cares for her daughter and family greatly.
I wish the presentation of the novel had been more smooth for transition and consistency in narrative voices. The stories in this novel were powerful and impactful, ones that definitely stood out to me long after I finished the novel, but there were times when the narrative threw me out for the sheer length of time and amount of stories packed into the narrative itself.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.