The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski(5 out of 5)
Disclaimer: Definitely my second favorite fiction book read this year. I love, love, love this book.
What do I love? My reading, as you all know, hasn’t been as rat-tat-tat as it used to be. Taking care of my father, writing several things that I eventually hope to be published, a full-time job, another blog, and guest posts on a blog that a friend writes, I’m a little stretched thin. My reading habits have tapered off, due to the forces of all of these things and throw in getting old(if I make it past midnight at 40, I’m stunned).
Once in a while, a book will entrance me to the point of reading into the dawn- this book was of those. I made time to read this book. It relaxed me and wound its way around me until I found myself picking it up to read a chapter and forget the other crap bugging me(there’s been a lot the past week and half). The book made me smile, made me believe, made my feel better, and it didn’t register a weak ending to the book. So let me quit bowing in homage at the altar and tell you what it’s about.
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow takes place in New Orleans in the 1950’s. Bonaventure is our main character, a darling young boy who’s born mute but with an uncanny ability to hear the smallest, most inconsequential noises that others cannot. He communicates entire conversations with people in his head, including his deceased father, who’s still hanging around because the element of grief has not removed itself from the household in which Bonaventure lives. Bonaventure hasn’t even been brought forth into the world when William is murdered at the A&P getting his wife squash. Dancy, Bonaventure’s mom and William’s wife of some months, is devastated with grief. You have the impression from reading the book that the grief she goes through communicates itself in the womb to Bonaventure and keeps him from speaking after he’s born and growing up. However, something much more beautiful is going on. William is able to communicate with Bonaventure throughout his early years, and he attempts to help his son heal, as well as his widowed wife. The wonderful thing about this novel is that the character of Bonaventure is so wonderfully written and infused with joy that the healing process begins. Dancy starts to develop feelings for Gabriel, a man that she and William’s mother Letice hire to show Bonaventure sign language. Letice, William’s mother, continues to investigate his murderer(The Wanderer) and what drove him to kill William. Adelaide, Dancy’s religious zealot of a mother, continues to try to impose “The Word” on everyone in the family, including a young Bonaventure, who isn’t a fan after she takes his stuffed pink elephant and throws it in the oven(seriously, this witch is the only character I really, truly would not mind seeing run into a garbage truck). William, what a great character- he knows he’s long gone and is stuck where he’s at until the truth is out and everyone grieves him completely, but he takes that opportunity to get to know his son better.Of course, there’s the additional consequence that his continued presence is also preventing them from moving on. Of all of the supporting characters, my favorite is Trinidad Prefontaine. Number one- love the name. Number two- hoodoo practicioner who has no problem telling it like it is, seeing what it is, and trying to help out. In the 1950’s in the deep South, taking a wild guess here that there weren’t a lot of super-strong female characters like Trinidad. After The Silveys(a couple who had helped keep house for Letice and her family)leave the picture, they hire Trinidad after meeting her at a town market. Trinidad isn’t just handy around the house, she also happens to be a Hoodoo practicioner, so yes, there is some magic involved in this book. Literally as well as figuratively. The private investigator makes inroads, and the truth of what happened to bring all of this to a standstill starts to come out. Lives change, secrets come out, but more importantly- closure for those who lost William. There are twists, there are turns, but there’s also a hell of a lot of love contained in this book. While I was sad to see it end, I would have been even more so had I not had the pleasure of reading this novel. I highly, highly, highly recommend it to book clubs.