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Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy

The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0062112248
Published July 2013
Hardcover, 224 pages

The Illusion of Separateness is made up of the interwoven stories of six people that are linked in some way to each other. The book starts with Martin, who, when just a baby, was given to a woman on the street by a man during WWII in Paris. Thus begins a story that goes back and forth in time. Van Booy introduces us to each character both in the present and in the past that slowly unravels why Martin was given away as a baby, who the man was, and how they are all connected through various acts of selflessness during momentous events in history and their lives.

Van Booy's writing is sparse, but always accompanied with beautiful word pictures. Here are a few that touched me:

He was married for thirty-four years. They lived in Pasadena. The memories keep him company. He doesn't believe in finding anyone new. He's happy with what he had. Desire is met with the memory of satisfaction. (p. 14 galley copy)

The dreams break against the rocks of morning. (p.63 galley copy)

I didn't mind sitting. I got numb, but it was quiet. I waited for night. Night came. I fought to keep warm. With the armor of dawn came relief. I watched day unfold from inside, then slept where sunlight pooled. (p.109 galley copy)

Although the story deals with WWII, it is really character driven, and I did not feel so much the horror of that time but the courage and selflessness of the men and women who lived through it. This is an uplifting novel. It is a quiet novel that stays with you once you finish it. Van Booy states in his acknowledgements how this story is inspired, in part, by true events. I love the title, and I feel that we are all in some way connected, especially when we reach out to others. This message is beautiful and sums up the novel very well.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read, except for two religious expletives.
To read more reviews, please visit the TLC Book Tour page.

About the author:
Simon Van Booy is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, including The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is the editor of three philosophy books and has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, and the BBC. His work has been translated into fourteen languages. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

Find out more about Simon at his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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