Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Casebook by Mona Simpson

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Mona Simpson's latest, Casebook.

I have found quite often that my disappointment in a book can be directly tied to misguided expectations. To further explain, with regards to this title in particular, I give you the description from Goodreads:

Miles Adler-Rich, helped by his friend Hector, spies and listens in on his separating parents. Both boys are in thrall to Miles's unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is "pretty for a mathematician." They rifle through her dresser drawers and strip-mine her computer diary, finding that all leads pull them straight into her bedroom, and into questions about a stranger from Washington, D.C., who weaves in and out of their lives. Their amateur detective work starts innocently but soon takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family's well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Once burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil, and proceed to concoct hilarious modes of revenge on their villains and eventually, haltingly, learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.

It's actually an innocent enough description: having read it, I can now see that it's totally honest and not all that misleading. And yet, my expectation at the outset was that this book would be more based in mystery than it really was.

In reality, this is more a story about a boy coming to grips with adulthood. In Miles, Simpson has created a charming and witty narrator whose story is quite amusing. The premise that this is a book he and Hector have written after the fact (complete with the occasional end note in conversation between the two) is amusing but perhaps not used enough to be thoroughly convincing. In other words it's an element the book could have lived without but had it been used more I think it would have made Casebook much improved (and given more of an opportunity to connect with Hector as a character as well).

All in all this was a book that just didn't completely draw me in in part because I kept waiting for the mystery to begin.

And yet, even had I been prepared for more of a coming-of-age story, Casebook would still have ended in disappointment for me. In spite of all the positive notes (great character development in Miles and those around him, hilarious boyish hijinks, and the wonderful way Simpson illustrates adult behavior through the eyes of a young boy) the ending fell completely flat.

There are many things to love about this book, especially if you aren't the apparently mystery manic person I am - seeing hints of intrigue around every corner - but I came THIS close to abandoning it multiple times before finally stumbling my way across the finish line. Meh.

Rating: 3/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For the latest on Mona Simpson you can like her over on Facebook.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.