Thursday, June 25, 2009

Audiobook Review: So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger

Here is a summary of So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger from the Grove/Atlantic Inc. website:

One of Time magazine's top-five novels of the year and a New York Times best seller, Leif Enger's first novel, Peace Like a River, captured readers' hearts around the nation. His new novel is a stunning successor—a touching, nimble, and rugged story of an aging train robber on a quest to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, and the failed writer who goes with him.

In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Becket—"a man fading, a disappointer of persons"—has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives a simple life with his loving wife and whipsmart son. But when he befriends outlaw Glendon Hale, a new world of opportunity and experience presents itself.

Glendon has spent years in obscurity, but the guilt he harbors for abandoning his wife, Blue, over two decades ago, has finally lured him from hiding. As the modern age marches swiftly forward, Glendon aims to travel back into his past—heading to California to seek Blue's forgiveness. Beguiled and inspired, Monte soon finds himself leaving behind his own family to embark for the unruly West with his fugitive guide—a journey that will test the depth of his loyalties, the inviolability of his morals, and the strength of his resolve. As they flee from the relentless Charles Siringo, an ex-Pinkerton who's been hunting Glendon for years, Monte falls ever further from his family and the law, to be tempered by a fiery adventure from which he may never get home.

With its smooth mix of romanticism and gritty reality, So Brave, Young, and Handsome often recalls the Old West's greatest cowboy stories. But it is also about an ordinary man's determination as he risks everything in order to understand what it's all worth, and follows an unlikely dream in the hope it will lead him back home.

My Review:

This is my first experience with Leif Enger, but I have heard such wonderful things about Peace Like a River that I thought I would give this one a chance. I picked this audiobook up at the library so we could listen to it as we were driving to my son's college graduation. I've found that audiobooks really help to pass the time when you are trapped in a car!

The main character, Monte Becket, has written a very successful novel, but now finds himself struggling as he tries to continue his writing career. When Glendon comes into Monte's life, he starts to re-evaluate everything that has become important to him. He feels that maybe he is starting to head down the wrong path so he decides to take a journey across the Wild West with his new friend Glendon.

There are many things that happen along their cross-country trip that strengthen their friendship and test their loyalty to each other. I think the part of the journey that I recall most vividly is when they were travelling down a river on a raft and encountered a snapping turtle. Some unruly characters decided that they would take control of the raft for themselves, but with the help of the snapping turtle that did not happen. If you use your imagination I think you will get the idea!

Since Monte left his family at home in Minnesota to follow Glendon across the country, he takes special care to write a letter to his wife from almost every town that they stop in. While writing these letters, Monte finds himself reflecting on his life and relationship with his wife, thinking that they have somehow grown apart over the years. Along this journey Monte learns what is missing from his life and what he must do to bring back the man that his wife first fell in love with.

I really was hoping that I would enjoy this story more than I did. I loved the fact that while Monte was off trying to figure out his life that he remained loyal to his wife and family. He could have just disappeared off the face of the earth and made many immoral decisions knowing that his wife would never know, but he didn't. I didn't really enjoy this one as an audiobook, but I may have enjoyed it better had I read it. I had a real hard time staying focused on this story and I think the narrator actually made me tired, so please keep in mind that my rating pertains to the Audiobook.

My Rating: 2/5


bermudaonion said...

I love audiobooks in the car too. Sorry this one didn't work for you.

Shelley said...

I listened to this one at the beginning of the year (I have yet to review it). I thought the guy reading it was perfect, and Enger's storytelling is good, but it didn't really excite me. Peace Like a River was definitely better.

Anonymous said...

The narrator made you tired, LOL! I think that the #1 requirement for an audiobook reader should be that they don't make you fall asleep in the car ;)

Laura's Reviews said...

Good Review!

Blodeuedd said...

I did try a book bu him, but didn't go to well. Beautifully written but not the story for me

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