Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review: Five Skies by Ron Carlson


Last Wednesday night the George Hail Library book club, Books on Main, met to discuss Five Skies, the 2009 Reading Across Rhode Island (RARI) selection. Five Skies tells the story of three men who are running from their pasts and who find themselves working on a construction project in a remote area of Idaho. As the project progresses, the men begin to reveal themselves to each other and in so doing begin the process of healing from their deep personal wounds.

I must admit that I was not very excited about reading this book. I was disappointed when it was chosen as the RARI book for 2009, because the topic was not in the least interesting to me and I was afraid that all the construction "talk" in the book would bore me. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book much more than I ever thought I would. Ron Carlson is a masterful writer and I found myself enjoying the plain and simple language that somehow managed to be poetic without being flowery. But, the most amazing thing about this book is the brilliant way in which the story of the three men slowly unfolds over the course of the novel. One of the book club members described it as an "evolving" and that is exactly what it was. And this was such a clever writing technique since it mirrored each characters slow journey of healing that took place throughout the novel. Brilliant! I have never read another book in which the story "evolved" in such a skillful manner. And the construction "talk", while at times a little incomprehensible (to me at least), did not detract at all from the story. Those sections of the book were nicely interspersed with the revealing of the characters' stories (and were easily skimmed through without interfering with the understanding of the story as a whole. Shhh! Don't tell anyone I said that).

Five Skies is a wonderful novel filled with richly developed characters that the reader really comes to care about. It is also a wonderful story of male friendship and how the slow unfolding of those friendships can be a source of healing. This is definitely one of those books I never would have picked up on my own. But it just goes to show, that even in our reading, it can be a good idea to step outside our comfort zone and try something new. You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised. I certainly was!

9 comments:

Tammy Howard said...

I love when that happens - when you didn't think you'd like a book and then you REALLY DO!!! Perhaps I'll put this on my list...

Sandy said...

oh good, I feel a little letter about reading this. I had forgotten what it was about and wasn't really looking forward to it. I'm supposed to pick it up at the library this week to read before the RARI breakfast on May 9. I had a brief chat with the reference librarian in Cumberland when I put it on hold. She said she was having trouble getting through it but I don't think she was very far into it. But after reading your review I'm looking forward to it. Thanks!

Anita said...

I am reluctant to read books that don't capture me in a synopsis, and I know this limits me in trying new things. This sound like pleasant surprise, thanks for the review.
Can you share more about Reading across Road Island?

Pam said...

Tammy - If you do decide to read it let me know what you think. It might be one of those books you like more if you have a chance a discuss it with others. But, I did like it even before the book discussion.

Sandy - I think you'll like it more than you orginally thought you would. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts at the breakfast.

Anita - I am the exact same way. If the synopsis doesn't sound good, I'm not going to pick it up. That's one nice thing about book clubs. You are sometimes forced to read outside your comfort zone. And just like you said about theater, sometimes it can be good to step outside your comfort zone. I will be happy to share more about Reading Across Rhode Island (RARI). I wasn't sure what I would blog about on Wednesday and now I know. Look for it then. And thanks for the post idea. I appreciate that!

Alex the Girl said...

I felt the same about To Kill A Mockingbird. There was no way I'd be able to sit through some courtroom drama. I was forced to read it by a college proff.

After I don't know how many years, it is still my top.

Im a skimmer too, by the way.

kel said...

Great review! I love surprises like that!

Pam said...

Alex - I LOVED To Kill A Mockingbird as well. I read it in HS and didn't remember much about it and then a few months ago my book club read it and everyone loved it. We had a great discussion that night.

I'm usually not a skimmer, but if there is too much description of scenery (or in this case, construction) I will skim. As long as I think it won't effect my understanding of the story. Otherwise, I read every word. Thankfully, I'm a very fast reader.


Kel - Thanks Kel! Your compliment means a lot to me since I know you review books over at Girls with Books. I'm flattered. And I love those kinds of surprises as well. Doesn't happen all that often.

Terra said...

I would have never considered this book before now, but now I feel I have to add it to my every growing list of must read soon books. Hmmm. I need a vacation so I can READ to my hearts content!

Pam said...

Terra - My "to read" list grows every single day - occupational hazard (benefit?) of working in a library. I will NEVER be able to read all the books I want to. *sigh*

 

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