Format: lovely small paperback (proof). Got me wishing all stories could be condensed to a paperback that size…*daydreams*
I was initially attracted to The Son as it is June’s Waterstones Eleven and the original French publication was showered with praise, that was enough for me to give it a go!
There is no escaping the overriding tragedy of Rostain’s story, as his son Lion was indeed the victim of a vicious, fast-acting strain of meningitis and therefore his reflections/reactions/feelings, told through the voice of his lost son, are all the more poignant. Whilst I adored the innovative and extremely brave choice to write his story in this way, I couldn’t help losing my way on occasion, as flicking between his own and his family’s thoughts and actions could be quite disorientating. However, I can appreciate that this disorientation could be akin to that which his parents were feeling and therefore makes it all the more raw for the reader.
Having been recently bereaved myself, I very closely associated with Rostain’s difficulty as an atheist. There are these amazing coincidences which happened in those first few months of grieving which the father in him wanted to wholly embrace but there is always the logical side of him which must describe them away with rational thought and physics. One such occasion being in the last chapter, as they scatter Lion’s ashes in Iceland. No exaggeration- it gave me tingles. I also appreciated how Rostain was determined to tear away from the stale, depersonalised funeral conventions of the modern day for his son: doing away with the generic hymns, emotionless MC and most significantly for me, all religious references.
Bit of a personal review but this brave book is definitely worth a read, it won’t take you long (I read it in a few hours) and it might just leave a lasting impression.