Jane Hamilton – Disobedience

93. Disobedience by Jane Hamilton (2000)
Length: 273 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 29 October 2012
Finished: 31 October 2012
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 27 October 2012
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and Jane Hamilton is a new author for me.

Henry Shaw is a high school senior who, at seventeen years old, is about as comfortable with his family as any teenager can be. His father, Kevin, teaches history with a decidedly socialist tinge at the Chicago private school Henry and his sister attend. His mother, Beth, who plays the piano in a group specializing in antique music, is a loving, attentive wife and parent. Henry even accepts the offbeat behavior of his thirteen-year-old sister, Elvira, who is obsessed with Civil War reenactments and insists on dressing in handmade Union uniforms at inopportune times.

When he stumbles on his mother’s email account, however, Henry realizes that all is not as it seems. There, under the screen name Liza38, a name Henry innocently established for her, is undeniable evidence that his mother is having an affair with one Richard Polloco, a violin maker and unlikely paramour who nonetheless has a very appealing way with words and a romantic spirit that, in Henry’s estimation, his father woefully lacks. 

Against his better judgement, Henry charts the progress of his mother’s infatuation with Richard – her feelings of euphoria, of guilt, and of profound, touching confusion. His knowledge of Beth’s secret life colors his own tentative explorations of love and sex with the ephemeral Lily, and casts a new light on the arguments – usually focused on Elvira – in which his parents routinely indulge. Over the course of his final year in high school, Henry observes each member of the family, trying to anticipate when they will find out about the infidelity and what that knowledge will mean to each of them. Henry’s observations, set down a decade after that fateful year, are so much more than the “old story” that his mother deemed her affair to be.

I thought that this book was just okay – to my mind, the story could have been told more simply, without such intense focus being paid to Elvira’s obsession about the Civil War. Disobedience by Jane Hamilton wasn’t perhaps my favorite book of all time, but I am certainly still interested in reading more books by Jane Hamilton. I give Disobedience by Jane Hamilton an A!

A! – (90-95%)    

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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