Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review: The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman, can be summed up entirely by stating it's a great read. For most, that simple statement isn't enough so... here's my review:

Tooly Zylberberg has found it much easier to live in a world of solidarity with the characters she meets along the way in the many books she's read. It's only befitting that she owns a bookstore where she can cultivate this love of the written word. She has little interaction with any outsiders besides Fogg, her employee, but doesn't seemed too worried about it. That is until a man from her past informs her that he's been looking for her. Something's happened to her father.

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers shifts between three distinct periods in Tooly's life that offer readers a glimpse into her past, even more distant past, and her present. Almost immediately it is obvious that Tooly isn't being raised as most children are. She travels the world with a man named Paul. Never staying in one place longer than a year. It is age ten, during their stay in Thailand, where Tooly's life goes in a completely different direction and she makes a decision that leads her to question everything that's ever happened before and since.

I enjoyed reading every page of this book. Rachman is one helluva writer... for lack of better words. I'm no master lyricist. His writing is poetic, eloquent, and alluring. There wasn't one moment I wasn't completely interested in this novel, nor did I feel the need to race ahead in an effort to get past the boring parts. Don't even get me started on the depth of each character introduced in this novel. Rachman is one helluva writer. 

At the very heart, most basic part, of this novel is a mystery. Who is this woman Tooly? Where did she come from? Why was she with this man Paul only to end up with another strange hosts of guardians? There's Sarah who is one disappearing act after another. The enigmatic Venn that Tooly is completely entranced with. Last, the funny talking russian old man Humphrey who seems to have a new story about his past each time he's asked. Paul, and this band of misfits all had a hand in raising the now introverted Tooly.

It has been a long time since I've read a book that made me want to laugh and cry all on one page. I don't mean to imply that this novel is sad, but my heart really goes out to some of these characters. They were all bonded to each other because of Tooly. Content to playing the background, to blend in as much as possible, she never realized the importance of her role in the lives of the ones she found the least exciting and that made me sad. I admit I'm sensitive like that.

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers is the journey of a woman who's trying to decipher the cryptic nature of her past and in turn finds herself. As she pieces her life together, sorting through the lies and the truth, between the past and the present, Tooly find that maybe the ones who loved her most, were the ones always there. 

Copy provided by Random House Publishing via Netgalley

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