November 18, 2014

Best Book Of The Year?

British author Ian McEwan has hit many bestseller lists and won many awards for his novels such as Atonement, Solar, Enduring Love, The Child In Time, and my personal favourite Amsterdam.

McEwan is one of those artsy literary Brit writers who have crossed over and gotten some commercial success and mainstream appeal.

His new novel is The Children Act and it took my breath away.

There have been a fair number of great reads this year, however I gotta say that this one is my absolute fave so far... it is fast and touching and smart and thought-provoking.

This slim novel is about Fiona Maye, a British family court judge whose long-time marriage is disintegrating at the same time a new case shakes her core values, and the intersection of these two prove to be life changing.

Much to her surprise, one night Fiona's husband of 35 years tells her he still loves her but wants to have an affair.

Then later that same night a call comes -- a hospital requests an emergency hearing to force a blood transfusion on a 17-year-old leukemia patient who is refusing the blood that could save his life. Adam and his family are Jehovah's Witnesses and believe the Bible expressly forbids 'mixing your own blood with the blood of an animal or another human being.'

While I think its clear where the author lands on this issue, this is fast-paced, efficient, non-emotional non-preachy writing, and Adam and his parents are not depicted as ignorant bible thumpers; Fiona finds value in them, sees their doctor as condescending, and finds the boy innocent and fascinating.

The Children Act is not really about faith or religious controversy; it is about Fiona's well-ordered quiet life being shaken by young passion and old betrayal.

Fiona is caring, compassionate, fiercely intelligent; she is struggling to do the right thing for a sick boy while struggling with the confusion and humiliation of her husband's betrayal. The crisis at home throws off her emotional balance, and as she is moved by Adam's buoyant spirit, she realizes her next moves could save or sink them both.

While there probably can be no happy endings in a serious novel on this topic, there is truth and humanity here, and yes some unexpected twists. This is an emotional and intense read from one of the greatest writers today ----- read it.