Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Book of Why, by Nicholas Montemarano

Eric made his life as a self help author.  His specialty was the power of positive thinking in one's ability to get their heart's desire.  Yet when Eric suffers some terrible blows in his life, he no longer believes in his own mantras.  When a fan of his writing finds him in self imposed seclusion, she forces him to find faith and perhaps a little closure.

I really struggled with this book.  In reality, it is two books. One, a novel, as it claims, about a man who lost his path in life.  The other is a book full of self help platitudes that are the exact reason I hate self help books.  So I will address each separately.  As a novel, I found the book to be deep, reflective, and somewhat endearing.  It had a fuzzy, dreamlike nature to it.  I certainly felt for Eric as a character, and was saddened by the troubles in his life.  I was particularly touched by the stories of his childhood, and how they really shaped the man he would become.  So the plot and writing of the novel was great.

The self help aspect, on the other hand, drove me bonkers.  It was based on the very popular idea that if you believe in something enough, it will happen.  Think positive things, and positive things happen; think negative things and negative things happen.  Yet the book, just like the philosophy in real life, is unable to answer the gaping questions within this belief structure.  Do people who get cancer just not think positively enough?  Did the children who died in concentration camps think negatively and that is what made the Nazis decide to murder them?  It seems to suggest that we have ultimate control over every aspect of our lives, something I think is false.  So, the self help nature of the book, for me, was terrible.

Because these two natures of the book are crammed into one story, it ended up being just a lukewarm read for me.  Personally, I would have liked it much more if the actual self help philosophy was left out of it; I did not see where it contributed to the plot that much.  

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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