I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review
The United States of America is fractured with many of the states at war with each other. People are living on rations, trying to go about their daily lives the best they can. After falling from their high social standing Tom and Madeleine Forsythe, along with their mute son Lyle, travel across the free zone to Tom’s childhood home hoping to find a new normality.
This is one hell of a dark book. It’s dealing with some dark themes of death, war, poverty, elitism and adultery. There are a few really brutal moments in the story. When these moments take place Charles Tashiro doesn’t give too many details of what happens – just enough to let you imagination run wild. It’s a good example of less is more.
The book is quite short and flew by in a single sitting. It did take me a couple of chapters to really get into it, but once I was hooked I couldn’t put it down reading it as quickly as possible. Saying that, I do wish the book was slightly longer with more focus on the events.
There is a lot of mystery in this book. At first there isn’t a lot of indication of the wider story, as it slowly unravels. This is done really well and keeps you reading from page to page. A lot of the mysteries are answered by the end, but the wider world is still shrouded.
While on the surface this is a book about a war torn country, at its heart it is about the damaged relationship between Tom and Madeleine. It’s focused on them, with the fighting and soldiers taking a back seat for most of the plot. The war is almost irrelevant to the story as the characters take centre stage. Their relationship is fractured and we explore that throughout the narrative.
The best moments of the book happen when it’s focused on Tom, his son Lyle and their new neighbour Mr Saito. Those scenes are really sweet and are filled with great character building. I’m not so sure about Madeleine. Her actions, especially towards the end, don’t really add up with the character as I saw her. Maybe if there was more time building up her past it would have clicked more.
I enjoyed Looking Away and would recommend it. There are some clunky sentences that I had to read twice to get my head around, but that’s only a minor quibble. For the most part I enjoyed it and would read other books that Tashiro writes.