Bonaventure Arrow comes into the world without making a sound. The result of a whirlwind romance between two people deeply in love with each other, Bonaventure is born under painfully opposite circumstances. His young father was shot and killed just months before Bonaventure’s birth, and his mother is weighed down by grief and guilt. But Bonaventure has a secret: though he’ll never be able to speak, he has the ability to hear things no one else can.
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is set in 1950s New Orleans and Bayou Cymbaline. The point of view jumps around between different characters, but the events of the book revolve around the murder of William Arrow, who was killed at the age of twenty-three by a stranger with no discernible background or motive. His wife, Dancy, finds comfort in Bonaventure’s birth, but as the years go by, she is unable to let go of the love of her life. Meanwhile William’s mother, Letice, is also unable to move on from her son’s violent death. Both women are holding onto secrets and are convinced that they’re responsible for William’s death.
Amidst all of this is little Bonaventure, who’s adored by his family but struggles to fit in with children his own age because of his gifts. He uses a notepad or sign language to communicate, but no one is aware of the extent of his unique gift, which allows him to hear things like colors and the history of objects. He can even hear William, who is stuck in Almost-Heaven.
On almost all accounts, this is not my type of book. The synopsis piqued my interest, but when I started reading it all these warning signs started popping up. Almost-Heaven? In-utero super hearing? Magical realism-ishness? Spirituality? Sentimental sweetness? For me, of Gimme Dark and Depressing fame? WHAT?
BUT. Then I ended up reading the book in three sittings. Leganski’s prose almost feels like someone is orally narrating the story to you, and it’s kind of addictive. It’s not perfect, and there was one particular scene that was way too treacly for my tastes (I won’t go into details because it’s a major spoiler), but ultimately the book is a good escapist read that will satisfy its audience.
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow was released on February 26, 2013 by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins. This book is on tour right now, so check out what other bloggers are saying about it.