Book Review | The Son by Philipp Meyer


the son.jpgI read The Son because it was shortlisted for the Pulitzer and I’m doing that super-time-consuming-yet-fun-yet-frustrating Pulitzer winner vs. Shortlist thing in which I read the books that were shortlisted for the Pulitzer and decide if one of them is better than the winner. The Son was shortlisted in 2014 and I’ve now read both shortlisted books and the winner. I’ll do an official comparison sometime in the next week but for now – The Son.

This is a massive epic that spans, I don’t even know how many years: lots? Yes, lots. It’s the story of a Texas . . . not really town, but enormous parcel of land that once belonged to Mexico and by the end of the book is split up amongst a number of families. The story is told from numerous points of view, including the land owners, their various family members, and the Native Americans who were there long before any of these other jokers.

This is a book with a much-needed cast of character list in the front so you can keep track not just of which character is narrating each chapter but what century it takes place in. The author did an excellent job of making this as easy to navigate as possible. I do love a book told from many perspectives but it can be done really terribly. That was certainly not the case here.

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads because it was so easy to identify as a Very Good Book. The writing was solid, the character development was on point, and the author admirably made several conflicting impressions of the situation seem valid.

That said, I can’t say that I loved this book. It was very good. I never dreaded getting back to it. But I also didn’t connect with any of the characters on a personal level. I didn’t think about them when I wasn’t reading the story and I wasn’t disappointed to finish this book. I would absolutely recommend this book to a person who enjoys reading a very realistic Western where all guys are both good guys and bad guys, and to anyone who likes family dramas that span centuries.

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