Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, are on their own. All they have left in the world is ten dollars, a backpack full of dirty clothes, and a stack of letters from their older brother, who’s fighting in the war. They’re on their way to Arizona when they catch a ride from a couple. The girl is friendly—and beautiful. But the man is different, maybe dangerous, maybe deadly. It’s a good thing Jonah and Simon packed one more thing in their bag . . . a gun.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Andrew Smith reads my reviews.
Actually, OK, that’s definitely a lie. That probably… fine definitely doesn’t happen.
But all I’m saying is that it’s a massive coincidence that he knows all the things that I harp on about wanting to be featured more in YA books and writes stories about them.
He must have seen all the not-so-subtle pleadings I’ve had with authors to write books about road trips (and not just ones girls take with a mysterious boy in a leather jacket who has a past) and siblings.
Seriously, if his next book is about dinosaurs….
This book is astounding.
I bought it a while ago, quite soon after I finished Stick (a book that I adored and wholly recommend to anyone), but it’s taken me a while to actually read it. I don’t know why. I kept going back to my book shelf and having a peek at it though because that cover is gorgeous, isn’t it?
Normally I get a bit eye-rolly when it comes to covers with people on them but this one is perfect. The sepia, the way they’re holding each other… it’s flawless. And it fits with the story so well. I think I’d probably go as far as saying that it’s one of the most fitting covers for a book I’ve ever seen, especially after reading the story.
And what a story.
I’m not actually going to tell anything about the story because of spoilers but whoosh, what a mental ride. From the first chapter (actually, the epilogue), I was captivated, horrified and enthralled right up until the end. I think this was the only book that made me tempted to sneak a peak at the last few pages, just to check it was going to be a happy ending.
Because it got pretty dicey a few times.
Mr Smith’s story is raw and powerful. There seems to be a lot going on: psychopaths, tragic women, tin men, dusty bars, letters from Vietnam, but there’s really only one focus of this book. And that’s the brothers. The relationship between Jonah and Simon was beautifully depicted and was the driving force for this book. When these two were on the page, everything else was just peripheral.
Their relationship was all snipes, bloody lips, petty squabbles and unwavering love and it was fantastic. It’s one of the most well-written depictions of brothers I’ve ever read.
But let’s talk about that peripheral stuff, because it’s pretty important too. Without spoiling the twists and turns, I’ll say that this book was deliciously unsettling. I had such a bad taste in my mouth for most of these chapters and my face was probably fixed in the most unflattering grimace. But if a book can’t challenge you like that, then what’s the point?
It is violent and a lot of people don’t make it to the last chapter (I think the last death count was a billion and two). So if you don’t think you can stomach that, then perhaps this book isn’t for you. This book reminded me a lot of No Country For Old Men… but probably only because I cast Javier Bardem as Mitch… but with better hair. That should give you a bit of a clue of the tone of this book.
But it’s a story about two brothers and their journey together, after the world and pretty much everyone has turned their back on them. I loved how there were no easy answers and how even though the ending was happy (well, in comparison to the rest of the book), you could almost hear Mr Smith cracking his knuckles, leaning back in his chair and saying “Happy… for now.”
This book ended in the perfect way, but I don’t think it’s the ending of Jonah and Simon’s story because I don’t believe that Jonah’s map is finished just yet. In the Path of Falling Objects tells the story of how far Jonah and Simon have come, but it also hints at how far they’ve still got to go and how much they’ve still got to conquer.
But I reckon they’ll get there eventually.
God, just read this book, OK?