“Jonathan left all of these fragments behind and I have tried to put them back together in some kind of order. I hope that this hold him together”.
Summary:Jonathon Bender had something to say, but the world wouldn’t listen. That’s why he writes letters to everybody he has ever known—including his mother and father, his brother and other relatives, his childhood friends and neighbors, the Tooth Fairy, his classmates and teachers, his psychiatrists, his ex-girlfriends and his ex-wife, the state of Michigan, a television station, and a weather satellite. Taken together, these unsent letters tell the remarkable story of Jonathon’s life.
Review:My mum arrived home with a bag of books from her book club, out of curiosity I picked through the pile and that is where I found this wonderful novel. The first pages had me hooked and when I really got into this book there was no going back. It’s not like anything I’ve ever read before.
The book is written very differently, not using the traditional third or first person but letter form, with a collation of articles, excerpts from Jonathan’s eulogy and his mother’s diary and conversations between Robert and people who knew Jonathan.
This is a tragic story about abuse and suicide and how the victims deal with it. The letters are hard hitting, at some points throughout the novel I was gasping at what Jonathan had written.
“Dear Grandma and Grandpa Winters,
Thank-you for giving me the Etch-a-Sketch for my seventh birthday. I liked drawing with it better then drawing on the walls, but I always felt sick when I shook it and everything on it’s magic screen disappeared. It reminded me how my dad would grab me by both of my shoulders and shake me until everything went blank inside me too”.
Jonathan was very easy to love because he was so blunt and sweet, very sweet and that really just made you a little sadder. What I really liked about Jonathan was that when he wrote the letters to his abusive father you could tell by how he wrote them that he was like: stuff it. He never searched for approval from his father, he knew that he didn’t like him and he didn’t try and change that. His brother Robert on the other hand was a lot harder to like, he was in denial about everything and would make awful comments about his brother and didn’t seem to really care.
Jonathan’s mother Alice was tortured character who was frightened and it was hard not to feel the deepest sympathy for her. I hated his father, some conversations between Robert and Tom (the father) would make you feel sick, he treated Jonathan so badly.
The book leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions and depending on which characters you like and trust will leave you with your own opinion on whether what Jonathan was saying was true or false.
The story does a great job of showing Jonathan’s mental illness, Sara (his ex-wife) explains a lot of what happened to Jonathan in a very personal manner and really makes you seem like you were there.
The story was hauntingly real, the characters, the plot, the reactions, the circumstances.
It’s a quick and enjoyable read and it ends very abruptly.
I’m giving this novel five out of five, it was so dark (though not disturbing) yet touching, I loved reading this novel and would recommend it to anyone, especially fans of darker writers.
Also, stay tuned because in the next couple of days I will be posting my interview with Melina Marchetta (how exciting!) and giving out the information about my first contest!