Mar 15, 2013

Review: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrrow by Rita Leganski

The March selection of the She Reads Book Club is a debut novel by Rita Leganski. THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW had such a unique description I could hardly wait to get started.

Typically, when writing a review, I compose my own synopsis, being ever so careful not to give anything away so as to not spoil the story for those who haven't yet read it. This book, however, has so many aspects to it, I didn't feel I could do it justice, therefore, I'm using the description from Harper Collins, which I find offers just the right amount of insight to this most intriguing novel.

Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn't make a peep when he was born and the doctor nearly took him for dead.  No one knows Bonaventure's silence  is filled with resonance - a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound.  Growing up in the big house on Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops.  He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as The Wanderer. 

Bonaventure's remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful, young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mere Latice, plagued by grief and long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creople housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed. 

My Thoughts:

This book intrigued me right away. I've recently begun reading books that dabble with the mystery of hoodoo, charms and spells. I have a very open mind and I'm fascinated by these things. To me, its a sort of magical realism, which I've always enjoyed. Therefore, the allure of this story about a mute boy with special gifts had me from the get-go. I also loved the setting of this book. New Orleans is a fascinating place full of mystery and I loved that about this book.

 Bonaventure instantly captured my heart. He's a sweet child who knows only love and his innocence is heightened by his muteness. I won't call it a disability, because its part of his muteness that allows his incredible hearing to be such a  gift. But even the people closest to him - his mother, and Grand-mere Latice, are unaware of his special gift. But his father knows.  I love his relationship with William and Bonaventure's willingness to accept his extraordinary ability to communicate with the father who died before he was even born.  I had a real feel for the characters in this book. Many were flawed and one was despicable, but they were all woven into this story with a purpose.

For me, the star of this novel was not Bonaventure, as I had expected, but Rita Leganski's beautiful prose. The lyrical way in which she writes is really what kept guiding me through this book. As I said earlier, the premise of the story did have me from the get-go, but as it went on, I suppose I was sidetracked by how much time was spent in the past, developing the characters of the two grandmothers and Dancy, and even Trinidad. I realize character development is necessary, but I felt they took the story over. I don't mean that as harshly as it sounds. I'm only saying that I was prepared for Bonaventure to be the guiding light but in the end, I found him to be an accessory to their stories.  For me, while the magical realism elements were present, I felt they took a back seat to the other stories being told.  An though the ending was not a surprise for me, I was satisfied with the story's outcome.

With all that being said, I did enjoy the book and I loved Rita Leganski's writing. The direction of the story was different than what I originally expected but the writing kept me going.  As a debut, I felt Laganski did a great job and I will definitely be open to reading more of her work in the future.

Author: Rita Leganski
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Published: February 26, 2013
Length: 400 pp
Source: She Reads Book Club and Publisher


  1. I have this one and need to start it soon. I am so behind. Anyway, I usually prefer character development over plot so I think I may end up liking this one a tad more than you did. We'll see.

  2. I just finished this today and wasn't crazy about it. I did enjoy Leganski's writing but the story was too slow for me.

  3. This one sounds amazing. I wasn't familiar with it until your review. I may need to look into it.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!