Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Crystal Falls by Brad Walseth



I live in a world where we find ogres under the stairs.  We sing in Pig Latin when in the restroom.  Costumes are worn when doing dishes.  Our accents change depending upon what day it is.  People randomly burst into song and dance.

The step into Walseth's world was pretty steep for me.  It's dirty and ugly.  It's full of corruption and abuse.  The people who live there don't take responsibility for their actions.  They believe life is all about getting what they want, regardless of what happens to others.  It's cruel and harsh.

At first, I was pretty resistant to reading.  This book was so far out of my comfort zone!  However, Walseth's voice kept me mesmerized.  He has an incredible storytelling ability.  So, I continued on.

After a little while, I began to understand what was happening.  No, it's not really that cryptic.  The fact is that this book is placed in an ugly and cruel world on purpose.  It's the reality that a lot of people live in.  It's not my reality, but it does cover a vast majority of the populace in one form or another.

In the book, we're mainly following the story of Nate.  His nature is that of a lovable, God-fearing, intelligent boy.  The intent of the story is to see what happens when someone with a 'good' nature is constantly enmeshed in such a 'bad' environment.  Throughout the story, we watch as bit by bit, Nate is broken down.  Or is he?  Is he salvageable?

I was really interested to find allusions to Balzac part way through the book.  Nate is reading one of his works and contemplating man's inhumanity towards man.  In fact, I found this entire book to be a nod to Balzac's The Human Comedy.  Walseth has taken the selfish people living in denial and filth and shoved someone pure of heart amidst them.  You can easily see how one simple word, one gesture, can break someone.  It's all such an intricate web, humanity, and you never know when you're going to be the one to pull the last thread that forces the entire thing to shred.

If you're the type of person who likes to skip to the last page and read it before starting the book, don't do it!!  I beg of you!  You'll ruin the entire book!  Believe me, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you occupied!

My only complaint is the timeline.  At the beginning of nearly every chapter, I had to stop and figure out which events had happened previously.  I felt like I was constantly paddling up and down the river of time.  It didn't take long to figure out where I was chronologically, but it did pull me away from the story.  I understand why it was done this way, and I can't think of a better way to do it.  Sadly, it still detracted from the story.

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