I was prepared for another "kid bullied, kid triumphs" kind of story. This was much more nuanced. Auggie brings out the best in those who are open to it, while those who aren't become ever more isolated and stuck. Love wins.
The performance kept my attention.
The intonation of the mother was sometimes too patronizing or condescending. The sister was dead on. Auggies voice reflects impairment, but could become too grating in long spells. None of it was enough to keep me from recommending the book in any form to many friends. Thinking about making it a reading project for my confirmation class!
The basic storyline was intriguing. I normally love time-travel stories and historical novels. I couldn't escape the clear impression that the author had studied the socks off her time period and was trying to fit all the interesting tidbits about life in the middle ages into the story, with a tedious result. As "Science Fiction" it lacked courage to fully imagine a world in the future capable of time travel and enduring dreaded worst case scenarios, but without cell phones or any other forms of communication not already in place in 1970. Bells are used as a literary device, but it becomes pedantic about midway. Agnes seemed to painted with a single brush as self-gratifying and demanding, resulting in a rather caricatured portrayal of children, many of whom are capable of far more emotional and moral complexity--especially in crisis. Catherine grew in complexity with her relationships with Agnes and the priest however. I was glad to see that religion was not completely judged by post-Enlightenment standards, and Father Roche was a sympathetic character who invited respect by the end. The woman reading terrible passages from the bible to the patients was archaic --as though she had time traveled from a Civil War infirmary to that time! Once I figured out how to advance the speed to "1 1/2x" the tedium became more bearable. Would love to see this story rewritten with a ruthless editor with a passion for making stories move with motivation and the courage to remove even half of the "donkeys on the stage." (being details that contribute nothing to the forward movement of the story, balk and distract from the story, and draw attention away from the paid actors!) The available nominations for the Hugo award must have been paltry that year for this one to have won it.
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