Engaging, imaginative, and craftily executed… A stunner.
Set in the 1920s, Novak’s gripping latest takes readers on a young Croatian couple’s journey to love and destruction. Tony Babic ́, the oldest son of Marie Babic ́and Jocco Babić, has always been passionately driven. But when he meets the lovely Vita, he knows he must work hard if he wants to see the latter spending her life with him. But fate has other plans for the young couple. The affecting narration alternates between present and past, creating both a sense of continuity and foreboding along with a meditation on the nature of young love and depression. There are gang wars, teenage drama, struggle for survival, and the characters, particularly Tony and Luka, are compelling in their passion and drive. Equally convincing is Novak’s portrayal of the Great Depression that took the world in chaos. Novak is deeply engaged when it comes to exploring her characters’ inner lives: she adeptly examines Tony’s gradual mental disintegration as he fails to come to terms with the pain of Vita’s indifference. There is no clear conclusion and answer to Tony’s devastating act toward the ending, but it makes the story even more powerful and heartbreaking. In a crisp, clear prose, Novak portrays how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when the delicate bond of young love shatters under familial pressures. Poignant and powerful, the novel makes for a page-turner.
By Kathleen Novak
Categories: Historical fiction