Blame by Paul Read : A Review
Rating : 3/5
This book was sitting idle in my TBR shelf for a prolonged period of time for no apparent reason. When I finally read this book, I started regretting my groundless procrastination. Albeit a short read revolving around the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery, the book was filled with emotions of abandonment, guilt, anger and ultimately forgiveness. Yet, the author never made the narration overly emotional and has succeeded in keeping it entirely pragmatic. What stood out for me was the erudite writing and vocabulary which sent me reaching out to the dictionary every now and then.
Lucas Marr is informed about his father’s death which superficially looks like a heart attack but on further investigation gives rise to many suspicions. Yet, his grief for the death of his father is completely non-existent. Soon, through a diary entry written during his troubled teenage years we discover Lucas’s deep-seated anger against his father due to his betrayal of their family. Can Lucas find it in himself to forgive his father and let go of his past trauma?
The book deals with the parent- child relationship and the importance of childhood memories in shaping one’s future. Lucas, holding a gargantuan grudge against his father, starts revisiting various traumatic childhood incidents documented in his diary. Analysing the events from a more matured perspective he finds a different face of his father than the one that he remembers and hates. The relationship between Lucas and his father and its transition over time has been handled really well by the author. He peels layer after layer of issues concerning this troubled father-son relationship and lays bare the issues between them. To give a fair perspective, Lucas’s brother Ryan also remembers his experiences with their father which shows a different man than whom Lucas remembers. Through this diverse perspective, the readers are shown a reformed version of Lucas’s father very different from the negligent parent of Lucas’s narration.
Lucas is a well-rounded character with a complicated personality that borders on being self-destructive. Through his character development, Paul Read has succeeded in tracing his troublesome behaviour to the incidents of his past. This enables the reader to completely understand and justify the actions of Lucas however irresponsible it may seem. However, there are a few snippets where the story becomes slow paced and deviates from the main theme. The overly technical details regarding the protagonist’s work does not contribute to the plot and is more of an unwanted distraction. The abrupt but simple climax might disappoint the readers who would be expecting a lot of action towards the end. Yet, this is what makes the story a tale of acceptance and forgiveness. The most sensitive part of the novel is the epilogue where you see a transformed Lucas who has buried the bones of his past. The epilogue left me feeling nostalgic and wanting to read the book once more.
Overall, this is a great book about childhood memories shaping our future and also letting go off the past. The language is great and the writing is sensible. All fans of drama and literary fiction can definitely give this book a try.
About the Author
After gaining a first in Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design at Canterbury, Paul Read moved to London, finding employment at Foyles bookshop before becoming a teacher. He has worked in several inner-city schools as an Art, English and supply teacher, both in England and Italy. He received a distinction from City University London for his creative writing MA.
A few years ago, Paul was involved in a hit-and-run incident which put him in a wheelchair for several months and was where he wrote the first draft of The Art Teacher. He lives with Patricia and their two children.
Follow him on Twitter: @paulreadauthor