This book follows a few months in the life of Luke Millward who finds himself thrust into the wake of post-Katrina New Orleans in an effort to find his father, Charles. You do find out more about Luke and his relationship with his father through a series of flashbacks. The overall feeling that I had while reading this book was a humbling yet tragically deep sense of sadness. It does make you powerfully think about redemption and second chances.
Although, I felt sad I did feel intrigued to continue reading even from the beginning. It's hard for me describe exactly why because I didn't especially care for the main character, Luke, at first. He makes a bit of a transition throughout the novel that helps you understand him in the end but he's still not as likable as you would expect from a main character. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing because I don't believe that all main characters have to be liked. In fact, that may have been why I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened with all the things that Luke was facing. I did feel that the characters, even minor ones, that were portrayed in this book were fairly well-developed, natural and honest, maybe even a bit too much as in Luke's case. I didn't always like how Luke perceived things and I'm sure it was done to characterize Luke but that's why I think I didn't like him so much. Like I said, it is most likely a matter of personal taste but it just didn't settle right with me. Here's an example of what I mean:
If Jessica Alba had a better-looking sister, it could be Bela. As I appreciated her striking good looks, I predicted one of her parents was Latino and the other Caucasian.One of the character's that stood out for me was Jordan. She was very kind and a good friend to Luke. I felt so bad for her in so many ways becuase you could tell that Luke didn't have the same emotional feelings about her that she did for him. In the end, she shows an amazing amount of grace that is very endearing. I would love to read a sequel about Jordan and get to know her story better.
I also really liked Luke's father, Charles, even with all of his imperfection and addiction. I liked that he was a musician and the idea that we can write a "second verse" to our lives. So, the incorporation of his song into the book was really neat and adds to the way the book felt. If you'd like to read the lyrics or listen to his song, it is found here. I do wish that it was sung by a woman like the character Bela did in the book though.
I also think the way that post-Katrina New Orleans was presented and described was accurate and well-researched. These grim details could have been a minor part of the story but were poignant and insightful instead.
Overall, I had a lot to think about after I read this.
288 pages, September 2008, My rating: 3 stars
*Repost from 5-squared for Summer Reading Thing