I've been hearing things - good things - about Rita Leganski's debut novel The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. And, after the first few chapters I have to agree wholeheartedly.
I have my favourite genres, but sometimes there's something about the description of a book or the opening lines that grabs me and I just know that this is going to one of those special books that stays with me. Until I lend it out - because I'll definitely be recommending this one.
"Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. But the child was only listening, placing sound inside quiet and gaining his bearings because everything had suddenly changed. His silence gave pause to the experts who examined him; here was a curiosity beyond their expertise. (They could never have explained Bonaventure anyway because there is no scientific word for miraculous.) They didn't know that through his remarkable hearing he would bring salvation to the souls of those who loved him."
With those few opening pages, I felt like I was sitting down to hear a storyteller spin a magical yarn of what could be... or who knows - what is. I was entranced by the idea of a boy who could hear what inanimate objects were saying, their stories, hearing the unspoken sorrow and sadness, the joy and pain of people's lives, the sound of everything.
"Bonaventure Arrow had been chosen to bring peace. There was guilt to be dealt with, and poor broken hearts, and atonement gone terribly wrong. And too there were family secrets to be heard; some of them old and all of them harmful.
I really don't want to say much more about the plot - it's just so much better to have it unfold before your own eyes.
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is not a book to be rushed through; instead it should be savoured and enjoyed. Leganski's writing flows so easily. Her prose are beautiful and lyrical, and I often went back to read them a second time. The love between Bonaventure's parents was beautifully depicted. I very much enjoyed Leganski's descriptions of what Bonaventure hears. It's a nudge to remind us to stop and listen - and not simply hear.
The book is set in 1950's New Orleans and I was fascinated by the setting, culture, description and exploration of the city, but also of hoodoo, voodoo and Catholicism.
Leganski weaves a unique and magical tale exploring love, loss, guilt, forgiveness and redemption in an utterly unique and magical voice. A fantastic debut and an easy recommendation. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. Fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen would enjoy this novel.
Sound like something you'd like to read? Well, thanks to the generosity of Harper Collins Canada, I have a copy to giveaway to a Canadian reader. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends Sat. Feb. 16/13.
Make sure you stop by this afternoon for a Q&A with Rita Leganski. And check out what other bloggers on The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow tour thought - full schedule here at The Savvy Reader.