Thursday, 8 June 2017

One Brother Shy

Author: Terry Fallis
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Canadian
Type: Paperback ARC
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher
Publisher: McLelland and Stewart
First Published: May 30, 2017
First Line: "She died before she could tell me."

Book Description from GoodReadsFrom the two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and author of The Best Laid Plans, comes a new story about a man tormented by an event from his youth, and the journey he finds himself on to heal and to learn who he is.

Few people know the real Alex MacAskill. Most of the world sees a painfully and chronically shy software engineer in his mid-20s, soft-spoken, a bit of a loner, and someone easy to escape notice wherever possible—and that’s just the way Alex wants it. Because no matter how many years have passed, the incident known only as “Gabriel” in the MacAskill family is something that still haunts him.

But when his mother, one of the only people in the world who Alex felt comfortable as himself around, dies after a long illness, he suddenly has no choice but to face the very thing that he’s been avoiding since that night in high school. In an instant, Alex finds himself trying to piece together the mystery of his identity, and on a search for parts of his family he never knew existed—a search that takes him from Ottawa to London to Moscow, encountering along the way the KGB, painful memories from his past, and even the 1972 Russian hockey team—a search that ultimately helps Alex discover himself.

With his trademark wit and captivating storytelling, Terry Fallis has written a novel unlike any of his others. One Brother Shy is at once poignant and humorous, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and readers will not soon forget Alex MacAskill.

My Rating:  4 stars

My Review: This book is filled with mystery, humour and heart. Canadian author, Terry Fallis, has written an enjoyable story about Alex MacAskill, a man who tries to piece together a mystery about his family and find himself in the process.

Fallis takes his readers on a journey to various cities (Ottawa, London, Moscow, New York) and touches on several deeper issues (bullying, loss, family bonds, long-lasting effects of humiliation ...). These issues are told with Fallis' signature humour, wit and his ability to write relatable, authentic characters. 

You really feel for Alex as he struggles to find out who he is without the one person who was always there for him. He's a quirky, awkward and lost soul. He's the underdog and you can't help but root for him. There is a gaggle of characters that he meets along the way but it's Alex's boss, Simone (who lives at the far end of the humanity spectrum) who you'll love to hate. She has the sensitivity of Miranda Priestly (Devil Wear's Prada) and the people skills and warmth of Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter). Ohhh, yes.  She's a special kind of gal (and I kind of wish she was in the book more).

Central to the plot is the mysterious 'Gabriel' incident which added an interesting mystery aspect. I was eager to find out what could have happened in Alex's past to have affected him so deeply decades later. The big reveal brings Alex's struggle with his personal demons into perspective for the reader. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that had a somewhat predictable, yet satisfying conclusion. I enjoy Fallis' writing, humour and his Canadian pride which is evident as he sprinkles various Canadianisms throughout. This is a light read that touches on sensitive issues with humour and heart. Recommended, eh!

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher, McLelland and Stewart, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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