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18 October 2015

Mr Robert's Bones by Gary Gautier - Book Review

Mr Robert's Bones is a short and witty novel that I was very kindly sent by author and blog-mate, as he called me in his friendly dedication, Gary Gautier.

I am always very happy to receive books by authors as I feel they are trusting me to influence the public reception of their book. In the same way as authors are helping me enrich my blog, my aim is to bring value to the image of their book, so I hope to be able to do that well! 
Mr Robert's Bones narrates the story of three children who go on a daring adventure, the quest for hidden silver in an abandoned and creepy house haunted by ghosts and memories of racism, loss and betrayal. While Annie can see the ghosts of the house, her friend Cedric and her sister Melissa cannot believe her, which leads her to  question whether to follow the said ghosts or run away from it all.

The setting of the story is crucial in that it is a controversial one - a neighbourhood of New Orleans, some time before Hurricane Katrina hit the area. I have to say that I didn't understand that instantly from the novel itself but more from its epilogue and my research after I finished reading the book. This is because I didn't know much about the tragic event, and reading the author's perspective helped me look at the topic more in depth. In his words, "In 2005, New Orleans suffered great damage from Hurricane Katrina but even greater damage from the media". Apparently the media concealed the great solidarity that New Orleans showed on such occasion, not only at a human level but also between black and white people, breaking the barriers of racism that (I assume) were stronger beforehand.

In the book, the topic of racism (and its absence) is dealt through the character of Mr Jimmy and his stories from the past, and just the depiction of the various characters as black and white. I found that very interesting as again, it gives an insight into a cultural theme for those who don’t know about it in the U.S. and specifically New Orleans.

Back to the characters, I have to say that I felt confused by the fairly big quantity of secondary characters and all their names. The group of the three main characters, Annie, Cedric and Melissa, are the ones that will stay with me after I finished the book. I loved their ensemble as they brought me back to my childhood and the adventure spirit that makes one see things through a magical and hopeful lens, always open to discover and risk for adventure. For example, there is a point when Cedric hesitates between leaving for church or sticking with his friends to bring the quest to an end - I found that so sweet and authentic, because that's what the instinctual nature of children is like. Very well depicted.

I found the style of the book incredibly rich. The vocabulary used is the most uncommon one could think of. I might sound very ignorant when I say that many words I had never heard of before… but that's the truth! While I found this choice of words interesting, I found the change of the tenses and the introduction of the author in the narration a bit unsettling.

Overall, I found Mr Robert's Bones a superficially simple but deeply complex book. When reading it, I recommend doing some previous research on the Hurricaine Katrina and New Orleans in order to be able to pick up the references of the book about it.

My edition: Gary Gautier, 2015. Mr Robert's Bones. Pages: 151. Light book easy to carry around with a clear font.

Stars on Goodreads: 3/5

You can purchase the book here 

2 comments:

  1. Love that pic! Barcelona background, the lovely hand of the model -- it makes the book seem so culturally "grounded" :)

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    1. I'm glad you liked the picture. To me that's as important as the writing!

      Assia | www.assiashahin.com

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