Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air Review

Darragh McKeon's All That Is Solid Melts Into Air is a novel set in the Soviet Union around the time of the Chernobyl Reactor Meltdown and onwards. The story focuses on a few central characters: a child prodigy on the piano who is being bullied by schoolmates, a rural boy on the verge of manhood, a brilliant doctor trying to do the right thing, and a woman with current and past unrest... all are connected by the catastrophic event in one way or another, and thus they are all connected to each other.

History has also been a fascination of mine, but as much as I love facts, it is the stories of people that really interest me. If you are looking for well-developed characters with rich histories and vivid thoughts, this is the book for you. I really felt a connection with the characters: their hopes, their fears, their loves. Even though I live in a place and time vastly different than the tyrannic nature of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, tightly gripped by Communism and totalitarianism, this novel is just more proof that human nature is universal. We all want the same things in the end: a safe home, our loved ones close, and the ability to realize our dreams.

The book is quite understated and as a result you have to read between the lines in order to fully understand the characters and the subtleties of the plot. For me, it took a few chapters to get used to McKeon's style, but once I did I really enjoyed the sophistication of his prose. Instead of telling the reader point blank, he let's what is happening linger on the page for the reader to interpret and ingest herself. At later points in the novel, the reader's suspicions will often be confirmed- to me is a reflection of the concealment that was so entrenched in the Soviet Union and how decades of secrets were lifted years after the Soviet Union officially fell.

In short, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air is haunting, heartbreaking, and completely worth picking up.

Keep reading!

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