Book Review- The Sentence

Well, my latest book club read has been quite a doozie, or should I say Tookie, in honor of the main character of this talked about novel. Unfortunately the general consensus was lackluster from our group, below I share why.

In many ways it was a great read- there was crime and intrigue, love in many forms, historical elements, especially narratives around the American indigenous peoples, and some good old fashioned witchcraft and ghosts. However, and I think many readers can relate to this, when the ending is off, the story is off. 

The feeling with Louise Eldrich’s work is that maybe new forces came into play as she was near the finish line. In particular, there is the pandemic storyline and the black lives matter movement that seem crammed into the ending. It is like Ms. Eldrich thought her story was going to finish one way, then these two social upheavals occurred in realtime and she felt obligated to thread them in. 

Was it a move to be relevant? 

Was it her ethical and political mindset? 

Or was it both?

I suspect the second. It is a noble intention, however it took away from the sublime story that it really is. Without too many spoilers, I will just share that Tookie is a robust character. She is tough, fiercely loyal, and lives in a consistent purgatory. Sometimes I think she is torn by her sexuality and her indigenous roots, and I believe she has some regrets. Tookie starts out very non-perpetually beta: brash, hardheaded, and selfish. However her evolution helps her, she is humbled by experience, and proves to be a woman who picks her own self up from the many fires that come her way in the plot. Very ß.

Tookie’s character, within the plots and subplots of a haunting, indigenous mixed histories, prison time, a marriage, unique friendships, and her bookstore job is more than enough for a story of my ideal design. Where you have a lot to chew on and question, but can find small aspects to relate to. And to Eldrich’s credit, she also wrote some scenes and experiences in the book that left my jaw dropped, and were unlike anything I had read before. 

Regarding the title, The Sentence is from what I have researched, a polysemy: A word with multiple meanings. Which in this book is true, the sentence has many applications to Tookie’s live. My favorite application however, was when Tookie (and other characters) share their favorite sentences in the English language. 

Tookie, an avid reader and wordsmith, shares a beautiful passage which is a favorite of the ghost who haunts her. I will leave you with this readers: 

A little tap on the window-pane, as though something had struck it, followed by a plentiful light falling sound, as grains of sand being sprinkled from a window overhead, gradually spreading, intensifying, acquiring a regular rhythm, becoming fluid, sonorous, musical, immeasurable, universal: it was the rain.  

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

So readers, tell me below, what is your favorite Sentence?


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