Review: Atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Could have been a 5 star read and admittedly I’ve changed my rating from 3-5 stars several times. This story outline was complicated and cluttered by the writing style. I wanted to like this book alot more, but the vocabulary gymnastics and stage setting buried the outline of a top notch story. The author displayed a good mastery of language, almost to the point of ostentatious. It diminished rather than augmenting a truly good story.

This is one instance the movie may have out classed the book as far as flow and continuity. I would have loved to see what Carson McCullers writing style could have done for this book. Again, the author has great style, but it didn’t do right by this story.

I loved the story and the premise for it, especially because the atonement happens the way it so often does in real life. The real perpetrators of the crime here were not so obvious. The mother, ignoring her husbands infidelities and letting her life melt into the couch with “headaches” while the kids raise themselves. The police and all the other adults for poor interviewing tactics. An adolescent cousin who was experimenting a bit with her own feminine wiles and possibly becoming precocious as a way to get her needs met in the midst of a divorce where she felt disposed of. A young man that was so “cultured” he would have recognized that in the girl and chose to be an opportunist in a family environment where kids shouldn’t be exploited during adolescence or family crises.

The really beautiful but sad thing for me is that Briony was teetering on the edge of pre and post adolescence. That age kids talk about “if you do it before you’re 12, you get into heaven anyway, and THEN…” But she didn’t give herself permission to tip it back into innocence; she tipped it forward into responsibility, but it was responsibility that should have been more widely shared and she took it all upon herself. Kids do that.

I would recommend this book to be read by any and all.

View all my reviews

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