Once a free spirit who refused to be tied down, Anna is a forty-something single mother trying to put her life together after a bitter divorce. She crosses paths with a twenty-year-old neighbor who could not be more wrong for her---and her life suddenly has a new focus.
She is drawn to his youth, his easy grace, and his freedom from the constraints that rule her existence. Though she resists temptation in every way she can, Anna is soon engaged in a reckless and obsessive affair. The consequences are life changing.Provocative, headlong, and utterly compelling, THE BOY is the story of a woman on the edge, torn between love and lust, desire and duty. Lara Santoro writes in fierce, unflinching prose about the dark side of passion, motherhood, and a woman's unthinkable rebellion.
I'm not sure I understood what this book was trying to say. In its short 190 pages, THE BOY felt frenetic and disjointed, while employing biblical references, and also trying to invoke Anna Karenina (one of my favorite books). It was such a short novel, I'm not sure it all worked.
Centered around the very unlikable Anna, The Boy is just one of the many awful mistakes Anna makes in her life. Anna felt as if she had sacrificed her prime years for her now ex-husband and her young daughter, Eva, so is now on a selfish quest to regain some of her freedom and excitement. Unfortunately, all she manages to do is make a mess of everything, with the help of her enabling compulsive gambler housekeeper and her perpetually stoned friends.
Even though THE BOY is the title of the book, Anna's affair with her neighbor's college-aged son was just the beginning of Anna's downward spiral. Fortunately, there were no raunchy, gratuitous sex scenes, which would have added a cheapness to the novel. This may not have been my favorite book, but it had style.
I need to talk about her daughter, Eva, for a moment. I'm not sure exactly how old she was supposed to be in the book. At one point, I thought she was under 10 years old, but other times she spoke and acted like a teenager. Having young children of my own, this confused the heck out of me. I read the uncorrected proof, so maybe this was ironed out in the final round of editing.
The dialogue was irritating - a lot of repetition:
"So he owes you money, no?"
"Like I owe you money."
"Like you owe me money."
"We do not count to ten."
"You don't count to ten."
"What do you do?"
"You wait for them?"
"For the children?"
"For the children."
I wouldn't have minded the pacing of the repetitive dialogue had it belonged solely to Anna. At first, the repeating seemed something only she did, as a part of her persona, but all the characters in the book did it, often forcing me to re-read certain exchanges after losing track of who was saying what.
Yes, she was a horrible mother, and an immoral person, but not connecting to a character does not necessarily mean I can't like a book. She was awful, and I'm sure Anna has a back story of how and why she became this way, but we don't really get to see the reasons, just the outcome and the carnage she leaves behind.
THE BOY may have been too short for me, a reader who enjoys a long epic historical fiction novel. It was like watching a movie through a strobe light, capturing important, yet disjointed scenes. Add the odd dialogue to these short, schizophrenic scenes and you have a unique style that may not be for everyone.
I'm sorry, when I don't like a book, I can usually give you a balanced review, of the things I liked and the things I didn't like. In this case, I believe that I simply may have been the wrong audience for THE BOY.
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About the Book:
- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (January 15, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316206237
- ISBN-13: 978-0316206235
About the Author:
Lara Santoro is most recently the author of The Boy, a novel, scheduled to be published by Little, Brown January 15th of 2013. Her first novel, Mercy, was a finalist for the Foreword Independent Press Award and was optioned by Cowboy Films. She spent most of her career as a foreign news correspondent, based primarily in Rome and in Nairobi working for Newsweek and The Christian Science Monitor. Her work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, The London Telegraph, The Times of London and The Sunday Times. She studied at Smith College, the Sorbonne, and at New York University. She was born in Rome, and currently lives in New Mexico
*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.