About the book...
Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows that Bonaventure's silence is filled with resonance—a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house on Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.
Bonaventure's remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mère Letice, plagued by grief and a long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but it is also between the pages of this book.
This is one of those rarer works where to read it is to love it and to describe it in a scant few words while conveying the magnitude to which it impressed you or rather made an impression upon you is quite near impossible. Nevertheless, for the sake of sharing this remarkable read, I shall endeavor to try.
The words will carry you away to the streets of New Orleans to the very doorstep of one particular house on Christopher Street where secrets are a plenty but borne more of self-blame than actual guilt. The characters affected by these secrets are wide spread and how it affects them individually manifests in many ways, but in the end, as with all secrets...the truth shall set them free. Alas, I'm only a few sentences into this post and I'm already ahead of myself. You see, the secrets are not the first thing we encounter or at least not fully, nor are they the heart and soul of the novel; no, that belongs to Bonaventure Arrow entirely and that is how this story begins.
The birth of a child, the welcoming of a new life into this crazy world even in 1950's Louisiana was a cause
for celebration of great magnitude, but the balloons and congratulations will not be arriving in droves for as much of a gift as this arrival is (and the extent to which that gift if known will be years in the coming) there is a deeper sorrow lining the hearts of both the born and just born. A life has been snuffed out as it was really just beginning and the reasons behind it seem to be nonexistent. A crime is one thing but a senseless crime where no sense can be made even if it is a skewed version of reality to ascertain the "why" of such an event is even more burdening somehow and the ladies in the life of our newly born Bonaventure are all too ready to carry the blame as their own. Warranted? Hardly, but kind hearts touched by the badness of life can not be blamed for supposedly acts of heroism; they do what they do until the pure light of truth and understanding can set them free. That light would come from the heart and mind of a child (with a little help both from above and from a kindred spirit on earth)...but not the voice.
Yes, Bonaventure had great things in his future, things that we'd be lucky to have a small hand in if given the chance in life, but he'd have to accomplish these things sans voice. It's not that he didn't have the right equipment or that it was broken exactly, but rather a type of disconnect that happened when the harshness of life touched him while still in the womb. In it's place, Bonaventure was graced with a superior sense of hearing that would continue to develop throughout his life allowing him to hear everything from colors and plant life to the words off a page when not spoken aloud to the birth of a star in the cosmos. I found it amazing how something that could be so limiting on the outside became such a gift and was conveyed in such a way that it wasn't an obstacle at all, even for the reader (a feat indeed!). Bonaventure knows he is different, his own experiences along with the voices of those he loves and those who love him have told him as much and yet they don't let it get in the way of his growth . I can't even begin to imagine what it must have felt like to have to hide that much of yourself for fear of being singled out nor the elation that each new sound, each new emotion heard brought. But I digress, there are more wonders to discuss...
In the end, I have to say this is one read I'll be recommending for many moons to come if not for the sheer enjoyment it provided but for the bittersweet symphony that is its sum whole. The story alone is wonder-mous enough and the history that is sprinkled throughout provides a connection with our reality, but the lives created within the pages deserve to share their story...and I can think of no better way than through the leaves of a book. After all, Bonaventure would approve of our volume-less method and the joy that it brings to our hearts would please him fully...it might even earn an inclusion in his box of joyful noises and memories. This work has brought up many ponderings besides the obvious one of which would be the tale within. I mean can one even wonder big enough to guess the stories that surround us on a daily basis? I would love to know just what the color blue sounds like or the stories that a book can tell above and beyond that which we read off the page. Remove all the chatter and dive into the meaning of a look, the endless depths of the written word, the beauty of nature and the kindness of a gesture. What would one be able to really hear if given the chance? The possibilities are endless.
|Author Rita Leganski|
Until next time...make time to truly listen to the world around you...and happy reading!