Author: Herman Koch
Read: January 12, 2014
Summary: Over one meal, two families struggle with the hardest decision of their lives. On an Amsterdam summer evening, two couples are united by their sons, aged 15, their horrific joint deed. Behind banal polite discourse in a restaurant, knives are sharpened, friendship disintegrates. How far will adults go to protect those they love? goodreads
Review: This book was not what I was expecting. I didn't have an idea of what the "horrific joint deed" was but I thought the story would focus more on that rather than the narrator's (Paul) extreme disdain for everything. I felt like the whole book was just him bitching about his brother, his brother's kids, his old job, mental illness, hoity toity restaurants, the weather. Any and everything. We get it Paul, you're a miserable person. He was my first problem with this book.
Next, let's talk about that "horrific joint deed" shall we? I'm not going to spoil it but I was surprisingly disgusted by this part of the book. I say surprisingly because I have read the gruesomest (word? probably not) of the gruesome and have not even thought twice about it. But for some reason, the details of what these kids did really disgusted me and permanently changed my view of them. Not coming back from that one!
This book has been compared to Jillian Flynn's Gone Girl which is probably the most perplexing part of this whole book. How? I don't get it and I don't see it. I thought Gone Girl was well done and while it had it's dark moments, they made sense and added to the story. None of that was going on here. I don't get it. Can someone explain this to me?
The only reason I didn't give this book a 1/5 is because the moral of the story was legit. Every parent's worst fear is that their child will do something that they can't come back from. It's scary to think of the consequences teenagers can get for doing stupid things and not thinking about their actions but at the same time, we can't let behaviors like that go unpunished. I understood the difficulty these two sets of parents had in choosing how to handle this situation and while I don't necessarily agree with their tactics (it's not all about you, Serge), I think it is hard to judge them unless you have been in their shoes.
Overall, the book was a disappointment. It went off on tangents that I didn't enjoy and most of the characters are despicable. But hey, if that's your thing, read this book!