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on Dec. 29, 2011 :
Don’t read this book if you’re not ready to give it your full attention. This isn’t a thriller you can read a few pages of, set down and return to the next time you’re craving some adrenaline.
In The Boston 395, Jason Derr places in front of us a real human being: someone who has the kind of thoughts that we all entertain in our darkest moments but would never admit to, the kind of thoughts that your average protagonist (authors would have us believe) never have. James’ (the protagonist’s) interactions with his parents, his siblings, his wife are so poignant, filled with all the love and anger and awkward helplessness of real relationships.
As James re-experiences pivotal life moments, the segues from the strange train to the various “stops” are so smooth that we are left confused for a moment as to what is going on – just as James, of course, is confused. I really liked this device.
I had to read it once, quickly. Derr really makes us care about James and his problems, and I wanted to see whether he could overcome them. But I feel like I need to read it a second time, slower, to appreciate all the symbolism I felt lurking under the surface and to understand the inner logic that powers the Boston 395 in its journey through time and space.
Anyone who has struggled to meet the expectations of family and society; anyone who has pursued the societal idols of job, marriage, degree, family and found them not as advertised; in short, anyone who has really lived will find this a painful and joyfully real story.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)