The book actually came out in 2007, but I just read it this week, so it is that it finds its way into the best of 2009. Someone made a movie out of it, too, which is no surprise, as it’s a novel rich in dialogue and feeling.
I don’t remember ever been more nervous that a story might have an unhappy ending. The characters are so well developed: their earnestness, loneliness and neediness combine to make the reader (me) ache with wanting good things for them – good things like one another. The dialogue is remarkable. Conversations last pages and feel full and true to life. There are some conversations that feel too… open? blunt? honest? – would she really ask about his mother that directly? – but whatever discomfort the conversations cause, they read as necessary, and worthy for the honesty the characters display and their willingness to trust one another with equally honest answers.
I’m sure much of my love for the narrative comes from how easily I identified with the characters – particularly Camille – but also from the hopefulness of the story. It is entirely refreshing to read a novel that aims to have the reader believe that love, gentleness and friendship are not only possible, but likely. All without becoming cliche or sappy.
The ending is the perfect one for the novel. I’d love to spoil it, but given that so much of my enjoyment of the book came from my concern and care about what would happen to each of the protagonists I’ll keep quiet.