Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubiere

Review based on ARC.


I started this book with high hopes for the French thriller that it claimed to be... So, around page 60, I was disappointed. I took time away from reading to explain to my sister what the book was about, what was happening, and what was bound to happen.

And I love that I was all wrong. And all right. And kind of nowhere in between.

I love that Sophie Loubiere was so deep in her plunge into the psyche of a declining intelligent woman. With a questionable past and an even more questionable present.

So, the book is "about" an elderly woman who returns to her childhood home to discover that things have changed. The neighborhood is not quite the same---but that is a trueism, as time has passed. But what concerns Madame Preau is the child in her neighbor's yard who appears to be neglected, abused, and crying out for help. And what concerns Madame Preau more is that no one seems to have any record of the child. Not his siblings' school, not child services, not the police.

And what concerns Madame Preau's doctor-son and psychiatrist, is that this all seems unsettlingly familiar... as Madame Preau has in her past made claims about the abuse of another child. And it is concerning to Madame Preau's son that Madame Preau claims that this neighbor-child---this "stone boy"---resembles her own grandson. Who she has not been permitted to see in over a decade.

So the question is... is the stone boy real? a hallucination? can Madame Preau be trusted? to what degree? What is happening next door? What happened in Madame Preau's past?

Although the pace of this psychological thriller seemed to be slower than I would have expected for a "thriller".... It appears as if it was just right. I really had a hard time putting the book down, even after I thought the whole thing seemed inevitable and unsophisticated (and there, I was wrong). It read quickly and smartly. It answered questions while fluidly raising others.

I admit that I did not adore the ending as much as the rest of the book.  It was a little bit of a let down after the expert weaving that had just taken place. It wasn't bad... it just wasn't perfect, in the end. But still, a highly recommended book for anyone looking for an intelligent thriller, a moving examination of an imperfect mind, an easy way to spend an afternoon.

I think this is really 4.25 of 5 stars...

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