Book Review Of “Oliver Loving” By Steffan Merrill Block @flatironbooks
From a celebrated literary talent comes a brilliant, propulsive novel about family, the traumas and secrets that test our deepest bonds, and the stories that hold us together.
One warm, West Texas November night, a shy boy named Oliver Loving joins his classmates at Bliss County Day School’s annual dance, hoping for a glimpse of the object of his unrequited affections, an enigmatic Junior named Rebekkah Sterling. But as the music plays, a troubled young man sneaks in through the school’s back door. The dire choices this man makes that evening —and the unspoken story he carries— will tear the town of Bliss, Texas apart.
Nearly ten years later, Oliver Loving still lies wordless and paralyzed at Crockett State Assisted Care Facility, the fate of his mind unclear. Orbiting the still point of Oliver’s hospital bed is a family transformed: Oliver’s mother, Eve, who keeps desperate vigil; Oliver’s brother, Charlie, who has fled for New York City only to discover he cannot escape the gravity of his shattered family; Oliver’s father, Jed, who tries to erase his memories with bourbon. And then there is Rebekkah Sterling, Oliver’s teenage love, who left Texas long ago and still refuses to speak about her own part in that tragic night. When a new medical test promises a key to unlock Oliver’s trapped mind, the town’s unanswered questions resurface with new urgency, as Oliver’s doctors and his family fight for a way for Oliver to finally communicate — and so also to tell the truth of what really happened that fateful night.
A moving meditation on the transformative power of grief and love, a slyly affectionate look at the idiosyncrasies of family, and an emotionally-charged page-turner, Oliver Loving is an extraordinarily original novel that ventures into the unknowable and returns with the most fundamental truths (From Goodreads)
I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.
First and Foremost, Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me this book for free, in exchange of an honest review. #partner
Sometimes as much as I want to love a book, it just doesn’t happen. It’s not the books fault, because I think every book is going to be a favorite for someone. This one just isn’t mine.
The writing is really great, for me it was very over descriptive and lengthy. I am a mom, so I do understand some of what Oliver’s mom went through, but I couldn’t really understand the path she chose to walk after her son was in a coma, so for me she was very hard to relate to.
This is a pretty dark story, it gets very intense and emotional in certain spots, especially the ending, and I do feel like this book needs a trigger warning, but I am fearful of saying against what because it could potentially ruin the story for you.
In my opinion, the writing was good, the plot of the book was phenomenal, but it was just very long and very slow, and for me it had a lot of filler. I think if this book were cut down by 200 pages, it would have been a good length, and a much more enjoyable read. Again, this is just my own opinion.
It was interesting to see where the family went, and in what directions their lives spiraled while Oliver was in a coma, and it does make me ask myself how long would I hold on to hope? How long would it be before I let someone I loved go?