Thursday, June 24, 2010

82. A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice

A Density of Souls is another book on loan from my friend Jeff. He highly recommended it, noting that he's read it eight times (and cried each one) and very much enjoys the frequent use of the word "portico."

The story of four young friends in New Orleans whose lives are pulled in drastically different directions when they enter high school. Meredith, Brandon, Stephen, and Greg, once inseparable, are torn apart by envy, secret passion, and rage. Soon two violent deaths disrupt the core of what they once shared. Five years later the friends are reunited, and, when one of the deaths is discovered to be a murder, secrets unravel and the casual cruelties of high school develop into acts of violence that threaten an entire city. 

Summary lifted from the book jacket. Sounds good, yeah?

I read this book during the 12-hour drive to North Carolina for my sister's wedding, which was lovely, thank you for asking. Colin and I were really tired this day, we basically had no sleep the night before, but we actually had a lot of fun driving together. By the time we got into West Virginia, though, I couldn't wait any longer to read this book. (And Colin had the iPod hooked up to listen to, anyway.) That book jacket copy is really intriguing -- I thought it would be kind of delightfully soapy based on that.  

A Density of Souls is much more serious and heartfelt than I was expecting. I finished it around when we got into North Carolina, and felt like I just needed to sit and think about it for a bit. It wasn't easy to move on from. The "casual cruelties of high school" is definitely an understatement. Nothing that I went through during my teen years even comes close to what these characters put others -- and themselves -- through. So much pain could have been avoided if they could just forget about their little society's expectations, and accept and embrace others -- and themselves -- for who they really are. The pain and suffering is just wasteful, there's no need for it. But that's somewhat of a simplification of the issues. 

If nothing else, reading this book reaffirms my belief that it truly, genuinely matters how you treat people. Don't downplay the effects that a "casual cruelty" can have on someone. If you need a reminder, start with reading A Density of Souls.

Oh, and I did not notice an overuse of the word "portico." 

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