SYNOPSIS: On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment's flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony's incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.
GENRE: Historical Fiction
RATING: ★★★★☆ / 4 devastating stars.
REVIEW: It should probably be noted that I love books that make me cry. I mean, genuine heart-breaking tears. The kind of ugly cry that leaves me with a book hangover and smashing headache the next day. Because, while I may be miserable for a couple days, these are the novels that stick with me for ever after. Therefore I am always in search of truly devastating books.
This is not a happy book. Not even that least little bit...okay, there's a bit in the beginning, otherwise it wouldn't have crushed me so. McEwan shows us a glimpse of what could have been and then snatches it away brilliantly...I hate him minutely.
Where this book excels is in it's visual exposition. The pages became so sensory. I loved all the details. While I can understand that other readers may find this level of detail boring, to me it felt like a steady heartbeat. The cadence of the words were perfect.
Of course there are parts that I hated, that made me want to jump into the book and shake the precocious Briony, but that's the point. That utterly helpless feeling puts you so far into the characters of Robbie and Cecilia that it's practically hurts. And then we're left contemplating our own choices. Can one misunderstood moment change lives so drastically in our own reality? Can a lie, even to ourselves, bring devastation?
Ultimately, this book made me feel. Just feel. And sometimes that's everything that I want from a story. Good or bad, happy or sad, just a wealth of feeling.