Book Review – The Man with No Borders

The Man with No Borders is the fictional story of Jose-Maria Alvarez reflecting on his life from his death bed. His past is filled with struggles, secrets and salmon. As he attempts to come to terms with the life behind him, his memories flood his mind and push him towards the ultimate decision of whether or not to accept who he is, what he’s done and how he’s affected his family.

If you have a Kindle and you’re not a part of Amazon First Reads, you need to get on that like now, because you’re missing out. This next one was my (FREE) August Kindle book from First Reads… And it didn’t come out until September.

Book 49:
The Man with No Borders
by Richard C. Morais

Genre:
Literary Fiction

Published:
September 2019

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, The Man with No Borders is the fictional story of Jose-Maria Alvarez reflecting on his life from his death bed. His past is filled with struggles, secrets and salmon. As he attempts to come to terms with the life behind him, his memories flood his mind and push him towards the ultimate decision of whether or not to accept who he is, what he’s done and how he’s affected his family.

Favorite Quote(s):

“It is the nature of old age, I am discovering, to remember the entire panorama of the past, everything from those difficult memories we spend a lifetime trying to suppress, to those inconsequential moments that seemed so trivial at the time, but now, with hindsight, take on added meaning and weight.”

“…the key is not to lie to yourself about the crimes you have committed, but to try and let in what you have done and why you did it at the time. That’s the path to forgiving yourself.”

– Richard C. Morais, The Man with No Borders

Awards (based upon my brief research):
None yet.

Pages:
307

My Overall Rating:
4 – I love it when a book has just the right amount of weird. I knew the gist of this story going into it, but there were mystical elements I could not have predicted – things I’ve never really seen in a story before, yet not so far out there that I struggled to see it. I think there are seasons in our lives where we choose to see and believe different things and the author represented that to a T with the addition of two characters who played a significant role in the end of Jose-Maria’s life.

On top of the unique elements mentioned above, the story tugged at my heart strings. Jose-Maria didn’t always have it easy. He was pushed and tempted. He had big choices to make that impacted every step of his life.

His story made me think about the things I choose to do with my life now, about my relationships, and about the things I will choose to reflect upon in the end. We will all have regrets, but reading the thoughts of someone in the latter stages of life (and even on the dying end) points the reader toward a subtle reminder that we get to choose whether or not we accept that. That’s a powerful message. Now put that message in Spain/Switzerland and it’s powerful and cultural.

Book Review – Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes tells the story of two intertwining families who share a decades-long bond through their patriarchal careers, their being neighbors, their tragedies and a marriage. From their upbringings to their personalities to the events of their personal lives, the Gleesons and Stanhopes are forever tied to each other yet forever in contention given their differences and the events that unfold. Can they move on from where they’ve been? Can their children break the mold of the past? Will their children even understand their pasts as adults?

Another BOTM choice I passed up (for fear it was too similar to the many other books I’d been reading at the time), I also picked this one up as a prize from my library’s summer reading club. I voted for it a few times at book club in hopes that it would become our book, but it never won, and I finally just couldn’t wait to dive in because I knew I would like it.

Book 42:
Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane

Genre:
Literary Fiction, Contemporary

Published:
May 2019

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, Ask Again, Yes tells the story of two intertwining families who share a decades-long bond through their patriarchal careers, their being neighbors, their tragedies and a marriage. From their upbringings to their personalities to the events of their personal lives, the Gleesons and Stanhopes are forever tied to each other yet forever in contention given their differences and the events that unfold. Can they move on from where they’ve been? Can their children break the mold of the past? Will their children even understand their pasts as adults?

Favorite Quote(s):

“They’d both learned that a memory is a fact that has been dyed and trimmed and rinsed so many times that it comes out looking almost unrecognizable to anyone else who was in that room or anyone who was standing on the grass beneath that telephone pole.”

– Mary Beth Keane, Ask Again, Yes

Awards (based upon my brief research):
None yet.

Pages:
390

My Overall Rating:
4.5 – This was an emotional read. The events that unfolded were large enough to keep me pulled in yet believable enough to require me to remind myself that it was a novel. I read it quickly – partly because I didn’t want to put it down, partly because it reads quickly and partly because I’ve been so tired that all I want to do is read.

I loved how the author had me rooting for both families despite the fact that the families are essentially combatant throughout most of the story. I wanted the best for all of the characters… even when they were doing ridiculous things. (Come on Peter, you’re better than that!)

While the things that happened between the Stanhopes and the Gleesons have largely never happened for me, to a different degree, I think we can all relate. We all have a family, an individual, a co-worker we disagree with and have had it out with in some way or another. We’ve all had moments where we’ve had to continue in relationships we’d rather not continue in. We’ve all had a difficult situation to navigate from childhood to adulthood. We’ve all been there…

I don’t think this book is a must read, but’s definitely a good use of time if read.