Rhubarb

…by Craig Silvey.

Meet Eleanor Rigby. Blind. Fiercely independent. Self-sufficient. With her guide dog Warren (who hates that his name refers to a place where rabbits live). Who is overprotective of her. Cynical about the world and extremely guarded about her feelings, she gets by on a daily basis. Then there is Ewan Dempsey. Agoraphobic. Social phobic. A maker and player of cellos. With a weird relationship with one of his cellos. And through his playing, he manages to entrance Eleanor who recognises in Ewan a kindred spirit. And thus ensues a story of both trying to face their fears.

It is a book about lonely people in many ways. Not just through the characters of Eleanor or Ewan but the others in the book too. Estelle, Eleanor’s tv-addict mother who doesn’t interact with her or anyone, for that matter. Bruno, the deli store owner who states he is Italian, but is in fact Romanian. Frank, one of the men in the neighbourhood who is friendly with Eleanor but hasn’t yet come to terms with his wife’s death. Silvey also looks at how disabilities can marginalise people in society and how sometimes, they appear to be at the very low-end of society.

The book is okay. Somehow, despite the seemingly interesting characters, I got lost. I think it was the writing style. This is Silvey’s debut novel and he had an unusual writing style. Short sentences. Running words. [e.g. Onandonandon] Addressing the reader in some places. [references to 'you'] And just dragging on and on in some parts. I think the writing style took away what the story could possibly have had for me. I bought this book after reading Silvey’s Jasper Jones which I absolutely loved! And this was a disappointment.

I tried to like it. I really did. Especially given his work on Jasper Jones and all the other positive reviews. But somehow, there was a bit too much symbolism and use of metaphors for my liking. And it just didn’t have the same flavour as Jasper Jones.

All in all, it was unfortunately a disappointment. I would rate it a 2.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

***This has been cross-posted on my personal blog***

Edited to add: After reading a couple of comments on this post on my personal blog, I would like to add that if the story interests you, go ahead and read it and make up your own mind. The book has received several positive reviews but just didn’t do it for me. You may end up liking it or loving it!

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