|Driftwood at Dawn|
photo by Amy Brandon
"Stories are people. I'm a story, you're a story...your father is a story. Our stories go in every direction, but sometimes, if we're lucky, our stories join into one, and for a while, we're less alone." Alvis Bender in Beautiful Ruins
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter is book I should have loved but didn't. I liked it, but for some reason (maybe the scattered, disjointed narration), it never grabbed me and held on. I liked the plot, the characters, and the setting, but I didn't like the mechanics of the story jumping between different points of view so often and so abruptly. There's a fine line between too many points of view and plot lines and the perfect amount, and Beautiful Ruins, to me, often felt a bit ADD. I found myself angered on occassion by having to stop reading in the middle of a story over and over to readjust to another story.
That said, and complaint department closed, the writing in this novel was lovely and moving, as were many of the ideas and truths revealed. I love the theme of learning to appreciate the present, to live in the now, to be happy with the person you are, instead of always grasping and striving for more, and the lesson of how that continual grasping will make your life a beautiful ruin. How much better just to be beautiful as you are, instead of a beautiful ruin of what you wanted to be.