Friday, January 29, 2016

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

A few years ago I read Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes and thought it was a decent read, thus, I anticipated digging into his latest, The Illegal. On paper (pun intended) it had all the ingredients of a good novel. There is a nice variety of characters, some likable and some not - just the way it should be! The plot is great and the intersecting story lines are interesting enough. There is nothing off putting in the language and no other obvious faults. So why wasn't this a satisfying read for me?

Arguably the most important element of any book is that certain "je ne sais quoi". It's what captures you when you first begin a book. At its best you find yourself reading way past your bedtime because you can't put the darn book down. This book did not grab me. Now, to be fair, it's certainly not the author's fault. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this particular book at this particular time. It happens.

I really wanted to like this work because at the time I decided to read it it was on the long list for the upcoming Canada Reads. I just learned that it will indeed be a finalist and will be debated by the panel so I am grateful to know at least one of the books. I'm not inclined to read any of the others unless perhaps one of my book friends gives me a compelling reason to do so.

I really must put more thought into why I appreciate some books more than others. I feel I am not being very fair to the writers - a group of people I truly admire and respect.

Here's the shortlist for Canada Reads 2016:

The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami (Vintage Canada)
Celebrity defender: Filmmaker Vinay Virmani
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill (HarperCollins)
Celebrity defender: Olympic medalist and humanitarian Clara Hughes
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (HarperCollins)
Celebrity defender: Entrepreneur and adventurer Bruce Poon Tip
Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz (House of Anansi Press)
Celebrity defender: Social entrepreneur Farah Mohamed
Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter (Penguin Canada)
Celebrity defender: Actor and former pro wrestler Adam Copeland
I can't wait to see what happens!

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