Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"New Adult" Project Review: "The Sound of Blue", by Holly Payne


Goodreads Summary:

Sara Foster has left America for the adventure of a lifetime--teaching English to the sons and daughters of statesmen in Hungary--but her idyllic adventure instead reveals a dark world of pain and redemption when she ends up teaching in a refugee camp. Sara discovers that one of her students is a celebrated composer and soon finds herself crossing the border to his war-torn homeland, determined to exonerate him for the death of his brother.

In a journey that takes her to Dubrovnik, a magnificent stone city on the Croatian Riviera, Sara contemplates her own identity, struggling to understand why the region's ancient and extraordinary beauty belies a history of grief. As Sara unveils the secret of the composer's escape, The Sound of Blue reveals poignant truths about the quests for refuge we all pursue.

***

Like The Secret History, The Sound of Blue falls more into the “literary” end of New Adult. It follows a girl (woman?) named Sara, who, after getting rejected from Harvard Law School, ends up teaching English in a camp full of war refugees. There, she experiences the distance that comes from living alongside people who have suffered in ways she cannot imagine and becomes fascinated by a Serbian violinist named Milan, who experiences seizures and synesthesia and who may or may not have killed his brother.

I knew nothing about the Yugosavian Wars of the 1990s before reading this book, and I appreciated the chance to learn a little bit about that conflict. However, I think a different writer could have handled this book a lot better. It was the prose that bothered me the most. While there were some pretty uses of language (“eyes shaped liked crescent moons”), I mostly found the language emotionally overbearing and chock-full of purple prose. It’s very difficult to relate to the refugees’ pain when the author constantly overemphasizes their suffering.

I would recommend this book to more patient readers who like books about emotional journeys and coming to terms with your past.

***

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