This novel was recommended by one of my students, who knew my love of heartbreak and well-told stories, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The tale is simple, telling the story of a friendless boy who heads for private school in search of something more. He meets a small, but perfectly formed, group of people who become, surely but steadily, his friends. He also falls in love with the wrong person, a girl named Alaska. She is the sort of girl everyone wishes they met at school, but are glad, in hindsight, that they didn’t. Complex, awkward, and hard to love, Alaska provides the real heart to the story, both for our hero, and for everyone else.
Everything that happens is in some way caused by her, and every thought our hero has, brings him back to her.
I loved this book. I loved the language, simple, yet evocative. I loved the characters, believable, yet with that wonderful touch of magic that makes books like this worth reading. I loved the set-up, hated the twist, but wouldn’t have it any other way. And I loved the little details, the last words the hero is fixated on, the life library that fills Alaska’s shelves, the smoking den down by the river.
Well written, compelling and heart-rending, a great introduction (for me) to an exceptional writer.