Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This is How by M.J. Hyland

In This is How, Patrick Oxtoby moves into a seaside boarding house after his relationship with his fiancée comes to an end. He's despondent about his life and the breakup and tries to turn things around. However, things don't get much better at his new location despite his concerted efforts. He's just not able to connect. On a particularly anger-filled and frustrating night, he discovers that one action performed in a fit of rage is all it takes to change his entire world.

I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I enjoyed reading it, but didn't love it. Strangely, though, I had a hard time putting it down. I especially love books written in the first person and while I liked this one, it was a little too depressing for me. On the plus side, it was a quick read because the writing was straight forward with nothing overly complicated. The story, a study really, centred on Oxtoby's desolate life in which he felt he didn't belong. At first, it seemed laid back. However, the pace picked up after Patrick committed his crime and he awaited his fate.

Part of the problem was that I just didn't feel a connection with this character. I felt sorry for him, but he or his predicament didn't move me as I thought it should. I found his inability to accept what he had done confusing. Likewise with his insistence that he didn't mean to harm his housemate. I think it went beyond professing his innocence; he truly believed he'd done nothing wrong and had no clue as to why he was in jail.

I found the cover to be an odd choice for this novel. While the landscape definitely looks bleak, the man stooping down to pat the dog, makes me think of happy things and that things aren't as bad as they seem. Could they represent his hope or his intentions? Otherwise, I just can't see a connection.

Recommended. Even though I didn't love this book, it was a pretty good character study. I'd really like to read another by Hyland.

Want to read another review? Here's one from Jonita over at The Book Chick.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit M.J. Hyland's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.

This is How by M.J. Hyland, HarperCollins, ©2009. ISBN 9781554685011(Trade Paperback), 376p.

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