Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blog Tour Review: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

From the Back Cover:

Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows Bonaventure's silence is filled with resonance - a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house on Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.

Bonaventure's remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mere Letice, plagued by grief and long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.

My Thoughts:

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is a wonderfully original and touching story about a special little boy in 1950s Louisiana. A boy born into privilege and love, but born without a voice and without a father. But from the moment Bonaventure is conceived he possesses a miraculous gift of hearing, a gift that allows him to hear emotions, colors, and auras from both animate and inanimate objects, near and far. Bonaventure's gentle spirit becomes a salve to the grieving souls of his young mother and his grandmother, neither of whom can get past the sudden death of their beloved William shortly before Bonaventure was born. And they're not the only ones who can't move on; William can't bear to leave his wife and child behind, and is thrilled to discover that Bonaventure can hear the voice of his spirit. But as happy as Bonaventure is to have his father in his life, William's presence is unwittingly trapping his wife and mother in their grief and perceived guilt over the circumstances surrounding his death. As the years pass and Bonaventure grows, so does his gift, and the knowledge that his gift has a very specific purpose to fulfill, a purpose that will connect the lives of several seemingly random people to bring solace and closure to his grieving family. Sorry if I'm being a bit vague, but this amazing story is well crafted with some twists and turns along the way to a powerful resolution, and I don't want to spoil the journey for anyone.

So here's the thing: I'm rather torn on my opinion of this book. On the one hand, the story is just wonderful and the writing is lyrical and magical . . . except when it isn't. A bit of the ambiance was ruined for me by the author's habit of painting a marvelous emotional picture with words, but then amending it with a graphic description of what was going on inside the characters' bodies at the time. I don't always care for stories told in classical omniscient point of view, but in this case I thought it worked really well, and it was the only way to let the reader in on what was going on because the characters had no clue. What I grew tired of, though, was the overuse of "signposting," the habit of a narrator who knows what's going to happen teasing the reader with it without actually revealing anything because it's not going to happen till later. A little bit serves to increase anticipation, but too much of it just gets annoying, and I found myself saying several times: Quit telling me something's going to happen and get on with it! And finally, I wish the author had refrained from inserting her strong pro-life stance into the story, resorting to a graphic, and I thought rather offensive, method of getting her views across. It really bothered me, and while I could appreciate the intention behind it as it served the story, I did not think the author needed to make it as overtly condemnatory as it was. It left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth after what had otherwise been a beautiful story.

And, oh, it was a beautiful story. I've not read anything else like it and I don't think I'll ever forget it. Bonaventure and the story of his family just really got to me, and I was an emotional mess throughout most of it. I loved the weaving together of different cultures and religions and characters with poetic description and love and laughter and profoundly bittersweet memories and devotion. So I'm tipping the scale in favor of how the story affected me, how it made me smile and cry and rail against the injustices in this world yet comforted me with the idea that everything happens for a reason and everything comes full circle in the end. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow may not be everybody's cuppa, and there's not much historical aside from setting in this historical fiction, but I think it's worth a shot for any reader who's craving that next magical, unforgettable read.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Enter to win your own copy of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by leaving a comment with your email address!

This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and ends at 11:59pm Friday, April 6th. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected. Stay tuned for more great giveaways!

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
is on a blog tour!
Click here for the tour schedule with more reviews and giveaway opportunities.
Click here to visit Rita Leganski's facebook page.


  1. The magical realism in this book didn't work for me - it was just too much. I think the author can write but I felt like I slogged through the book. No need to enter me.

    1. I have seen some other reviewers comment that they thought the book too long. It's definitely not perfect, but it was one of those stories that just got to me. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I wanted to review this but couldn't fit it into my schedule. I would love to be entered to win.
    Thank you
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  3. This is the second review I've seen for this book. Non-realistic is not usually what I gravitate toward, but this novel sounds so different and unusual. I'd love to give it a try. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. thanks for this feature which interests me greatly. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. This novel sounds intriguing. I would like to read it very much. Thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. sounds like a book I would really enjoy! thanks for the giveaway
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  7. Wow, sounds like a must-read to me. Thanks for the chance to win.

  8. I'm glad that you enjoyed the story! It sounds like it will stick with you for a long time.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  9. What a beautiful review! I loved this book myself, for its magical prose, as well as the well-delineated characters.

    I had a different reaction regarding Leganski's pro-life stance. Yes, some parts of the novel were emotionally-wrenching to read, but that's how it is with great literature, and I definitely think that this novel fits into that category. A novelist sometimes has to hit a reader in the gut in order to tell the truth about certain injustices in the world. Harper Lee did that in "To Kill A Mockingbird", and now Rita Leganski has done it in this novel.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  10. I like books with a sort of fantastical feel to them. Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  11. Thanks for the giveaway! This book looks really interesting and I love that cover. It makes me think of Christmas and family.

    mestith at gmail dot com

  12. Sometimes, oftentimes, this is exactly the type of book I need: "...how it made me smile and cry and rail against the injustices in this world yet comforted me with the idea that everything happens for a reason and everything comes full circle in the end."

  13. Thanks for the giveaway. The bayou is a magical place. denannduvall@gmail.com.


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