This is such a great story. I found it very inspiring on many levels. I do not share Keflezighi's religious faith, but even that aspect was presented so naturally that it did not detract from his story. What did detract, for me, was hearing it come out of a voice so obviously white-middle-America.
Maybe Meb didn't care to narrate his own book, but could they not find anyone who might sound more like him?
This book has something to annoy everyone. There are long and frequent passages of Christian dogma, including the ever-present message that ALL of the characters' sufferings are a direct form of punishment from God. The theme of punishment is so prevalent that it becomes ridiculous; like a toddler who thinks the universe revolves around him, the characters see all events as the result of their own actions and thoughts.
There are long sections of text where not much happens, but we have to slog through boring minutiae describing everything that a character sees and thinks during, say, a three day journey through the woods. The plot never "twists" or "thickens," it just ambles along from one misery to the next, with plenty of reminders that "these are dark times." Neither Lina Patel's lovely narration nor the few bland sex scenes can liven up the story.
Greatly annoying too is the author's guess at how a female character would act. He has the heroine chopping down a rapist with an ax and abandoning her insane mother one minute, and the next minute feeling "so frightened" by something that she cannot move or speak.
The ending of the book is also utterly unsatisfying, with the inevitable and long-awaited lovers' reunion cut short and left to the readers' imagination. I wish I had imagined the whole book; it would have been cheaper and less time-consuming.
Most Annoying Of All: Instead of using the American Revolution as an informative and thoughtful backdrop to his story, Morgan focuses on the activities of a few characters: the super-evil, and the super-good (but they still must be punished!). This Evil Man vs. Just God theme, besides flirting with complete irrationality, ignores the true significance of the war: that people should govern their own lives in a free land and not answer to a King. Picky me, wanting to see glimpses of this noble theme instead of Morgan's version of Pilgrim's Progress.
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