World War I has ended, and somehow Tristan Sadler has survived. Well, he is alive anyway. He had made a great friend during training – Will Bancroft was his name – and now Tristan is compelled to visit Will’s sister and deliver to her letters that Will had treasured while fighting in France. During their meeting, Tristan feels as though he must tell her the truth, the whole truth, of what happened over there. He feels as though he must share his secrets with her for the first and only time, even if the shame and guilt he feels destroys him.
Mr. Boyne has written several acclaimed novels; though I had only previously read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I knew that he could write emotional tragic tales quite well. And boy, does he. This book is tragic on so many levels. The Absolutist is packed full of so much passion that I felt the emotion of the book fall over me like a blanket each time I picked it up. The essence and personality of the book is just that strong. The emotions are so rich and full that I could feel the strength and warmth in the bond between Tristan and Will as their friendship grew. I could feel the wretchedness of the war; smell the stench of mud and blood in the trenches. I could taste the salt of the tears when feelings were betrayed and abused.
As Tristan tells his story, including poignant scenes from his childhood, you think you understand what his big secret is. You feel as though you’ve already been let in, and it is enough to feel his torment and unfortunate shame surrounding that aspect of his life. Then comes the bigger bombshell. I had guessed at what could be coming, but was still not prepared for the details of it.
I am always looking for books that produce a reaction, and the emotional response I’ve had to this book has been off the charts. I will carry Tristan’s story and his sadness with me for a long time.
by John Boyne
Other Press, 2012
Source: Publisher for honest review
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