When my co-workers’ kids were going off to college, I watched them struggle with empty nest syndrome. As a parent, I can only imagine this inevitability when I look at my grade-school age kids. But I know it’s out there and I know how hard it will be for me when the time comes. My own memories of going off to college, however, had no recollection of my parents’ struggles with this. So I asked my mom—was it hard for you? She told me she cried the whole way home after they dropped me off. Of course it was hard, but she said nothing of it to me at the time. And I was too self-absorbed at the time to notice what my actions were doing to everyone around me.
If you love a good love story, Atonement by Ian McEwan will piss you off. There is a love story in here—but it gets destroyed and trampled on almost before it begins by powers out of its control—the imagination, selfishness and malice of a 13 year old girl. This is the story of a self-absorbed adolescent who misinterprets what she sees between her sister and a family friend. Seeking attention and drama—she fabricates a story accusing him of a crime he didn’t commit. The lie takes on a life of its own and alters the lives of all characters forever. It’s an upsetting, disturbing and sad story, but not a bad book. The writing style and perspectives of different characters are unique and beautiful and I loved the way some passages were written deliberately vague, forcing me to re-read them over again to fully appreciate their beauty. And McEwan writes a love scene that is one of the best I’ve ever read by a male author. The novel does have some rather odd structure, however, and that, along with the sad premise, got a lot of criticism from the other BABBs.
The offending character does offer “atonement” for her crimes, however, in her own way. That brings the story full-circle and offers the reader, as well as her sister and her sister’s lover a better ending than real life provided.
Parting note—Robbie—a solid 9.25 on the HTAF scale. And that one scene could maybe even push him to a 10.01—but don’t tell Adam. Well, maybe somebody should tell Adam… Any volunteers? I am so going to get in trouble for this…