Honest to goodness, I don't know how long it has taken me to read this book. It has been slow going, but I did it - I finished all 704 pages, including 2 of acknowledgements, because... because... because I just could not stop reading.
Plain and simple.
There is nothing, nothing, plain & simple about this book. First off, Dennis Lehane (I make no bones about this) is one of my favorite authors and it was this respect for him that pushed me on to not leave one word behind. It's what propelled me through the tough times of this book, which were probably the first 350 pages...
I thought about shutting it down more than once. As much as I love Dennis Lehane, this was different from what I've read of him in the past. His McKenzie-Gennaro series reveals a dark, gritty Boston full of sinister evil that I can only take in small doses - after a few novels I need a break & cavort towards "chick lit" to clear my mind, and heart, of those distressing images his words conjure up. But this novel, The Given Day, wasn't his usual. It went deep into the soul and twisted through history, brought tears to my eyes and pain to my heart, filled me with pride and flooded me with shame.
At the end, I had a single thought: Wow.
I am walking away with so much more from this novel than I brought of me to it. I'm a little overwhelmed, actually. My mind is reeling with thoughts of who I am as a writer (well, who I hope to be), the turbulent times our country went through being born and growing through its infancy, the sanctuaries we think we have but then cease to be, the hard realities of this world - the fear, the pride, the illusions, the misunderstandings, the deceptions, the tidal waves of change and yet that neverending glimmer of hope through it all...
As always, I fail to do justice here. I can't get the words down. I can't describe what I'm feeling. I can only hope that somehow the message does come across, although, I honestly don't know how it ever can.