by Austin Ratner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the Land of the Living captures the lifelong effects of traumatic childhood losses in a family that is splintered beyond repair. Author Austin Ratner has created a coming of age story for not one, but two men in a family saga that spans more than one generation with eerily similar tragedies. Isidore struggled with a cold and distant widowed father, trying to shield his siblings from his parental wrath, while vowing to make a success of his own life. Leo, Isidore’s son, is faced with almost identical losses and it drives the actions and reactions of his life in an effort to do what would make his father proud, while facing and fighting an inner rage and contempt for his younger brother Mack. Have the losses faced by this family ruined its chances to heal?
By telling the story out of sequence chronologically, Austin Ratner has enhanced the feeling of loss and confusion, as well as the day to day struggles faced by his characters. His intermixed dark humor lends credibility to the story, making each character more lifelike and painfully human. I felt the pain of the characters, as well as their convictions, strengths and insecurities. Each scene was so descriptive and vivid in its detail with an elegant, yet edgy style that it made this a book to remember long after the final page.
This edition was provided by NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company in exchange for my honest review. Publication Date: March 12, 2013
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