Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert

Remember back in November when I wrote that novel? I know, it was a long time ago and I haven't talk about it really at all since. Have I been working on it? Every so often, I open it up on my computer and stare at it. I've read through the opening two scenes about three times. I've even made a few changes, moved my character from one spot to another. 

But no. I haven't really been working on it. 

Piling guilt on myself is not the point of this post, however. Instead, I wanted to remind you about how I was fortunate enough to be invited to a write-in at the Randomhouse offices here in Toronto while I was writing that neglected novel. That was how I acquired half the books I've read in the last couple months, like Pigeon Pie Mystery, Bedbugs, and The Reluctant Diary of Henry K. Larsen

Among the stack was this one:

The Lion Seeker

by Kenneth Bonert


This is a coming of age story. I love coming of age stories. Absolutely adore them. They're always so human, the kind of stories that reach out and grasp a hold of your soul with their intimacy. Naturally, based on the genre alone, I loved this book. But I loved it for more than that. I loved it for the way it opened my eyes to a world that was completely foreign to me before I delved into its pages. 

Now that I've gushed, a little bit about this book: the story focuses on the growing up of Isaac Helger. He's a Jewish boy in pre-war South Africa, struggling to find success. Hanging over him is the ultimate goal of his mother: to bring her family from Lithuania to South Africa, to be reunited with her sisters. War is looming. 

At first, I'll admit, I didn't like Isaac's character. I couldn't relate to him, couldn't understand his choices. But, the more I read, the more I was fascinated by him. He's not necessarily likable, but you can't help but hold your breath for him. You can't help but to hope that he'll make the right decisions and find yourself deeply sad when you feel that he doesn't. 

By the end of the novel though, I realized it's not all so black and white. Did he make a tragic mistake in his life? Or is he dealing with consequences of making the right decision, but a decision that was ultimately the hardest to make? Could things have actually turned out for the better? Knowing world history, it's hard to see that better outcome.

I will warn, this book did get a little tedious at times. Have you ever had a running dream? Running through a forest and something is chasing you, and it feels like you're running through water and you're becoming exhausted, but you're not becoming exhausted all at the same time? It's like that, a constant string of decisions, minor successes, failures, another decision, another success, another failure. And, it's a long book. It's beautifully written, but it's a bit of a tiring journey through Isaac's life.

Still, this book will open your eyes to a new world. It will push you tragically into love, rub your face in the pain of racial conflict, exhaust you in the empty pursuit of wealth, and push you around through the pain of a family in turmoil. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Will you love it? I hope so. 

But. Here's where I apologize. You can't read it yet. Soon, you can! It's being release on February 26th, so add it to your Goodread to-read list! Seriously. It's worth the short wait.

1 comment:

  1. Try reading "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtnay if you haven't already. Set in South Africa just before during and after WW2. Very good read.

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