What’s it all about?:
We first meet Michel eleven days after the death of his son Lion. Lion was lost, suddenly, to a virulent strain of meningitis and the tragedy left his father and entire family reeling. We join Michel on his personal journey through grief, but the twist that makes the journey truly remarkable, and tips this true story into fiction, is the fact that we see it all through Lion’s eyes. In a stunningly original blurring of memoir and fiction, The Son tackles the very hardest of subjects in the most readable of ways. Michel Rostain resolutely ducks away from sentimentality and pathos, and tells his story instead with wit, wisdom, and vitality. For this is not a book about death; it’s a book about life.
What did I think?:
The Son is the June selection from the Waterstones Eleven debut authors – please see my previous post HERE. It is a highly emotional and moving read that blends memoir and fiction seamlessly, exploring grief and loss through the son’s eyes after his death as he watches his parents (specifically his father Michel) come to terms with their loss. Lion dies quite suddenly and unexpectedly after succumbing to the horror that is meningitis, and the story is told by flipping backwards and forwards from just before his death, to his actual death, the funeral, and the time afterwards which can only be described as heart breaking.
I read somewhere that there are no words to describe parents who have lost a child. When we think of the word “orphan,” we automatically picture a child who has lost their parents, but do we use the same word to describe parents who have lost their child? Especially since it is usually expected that parents will die before their children, so to have the tables turned so as to speak, must be a horror that is indescribable. I found the section describing Lion’s illness, especially when it worsened, particularly hard to read and it must have been incredibly difficult to write. The quote below was particularly poignant:
“We don’t yet know when we’ll die, but the unknown is only ever two numerals away.”
Throughout it all, despite the immense grief and suffering, Michel comes across as a strong, talented and admirable individual – the sub-title of the book being: This is not a book about death. It’s a book about life.”
I respect the author for the strength it must have taken to write this book, and enjoyed the moments of humour and the richness of the writing. I highly recommend it as a truly thought provoking novel which offers hope and positivity for the future ahead.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):