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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

From Flannery O’Connor and Rona Jaffe Award winner Lori Ostlund, a deeply moving and beautiful debut novel about a man who leaves his longtime partner in New Mexico for a new life in San Francisco, launching him on a tragicomic road trip and into the mysteries of his own Midwestern childhood. Sensitive, big-hearted, and achingly self-conscious, forty-year-old Aaron Englund long ago escaped the …

After the Parade: A Novel

by Lori Ostlund

Overall Book Review:

I will admit this book pulled me in solely because of the cover. Had I first read the back cover, I wouldn’t have given this book a chance. I try not to be too snobby when it comes to books, but some things just don’t interest me, and I know not to waste my time. This book was not a waste of time, In fact, I found myself enjoying it quite a lot.

Lori Ostlund did a spectacular job of taking one brief moment of time in her characters’ lives, and turning it into the main storyline. One tragedy multiplies into many, but the reader can’t see it until everything suddenly falls together. A book about a middle-aged man doesn’t really sound that enticing to me, but when I looked beyond the outline of this book, I discovered a story that was heartfelt, happy, sad, and lovely.

This book is about estranged pasts, healing presents, and finding love and forgiveness in unlikely places. I think we can all use a little bit more of the last two things.

Review of Advance Reader Copy provided by the Publisher

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 4 mild obscenities; 1 scatological word; 5 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture.

Violence/Gore:  Boys are reported to have been beaten; a man hears a boy being beaten; a boy is found lying injured in one brief scene; a man hits another man in a brief scuffle; a boy is mentioned to be in a come as a result of an injury; a character speaks of fear of terrorists; a character falls a small distance and hits head, dies; a man spanks boys that are nude with a belt in one brief scene; a character is mentioned to shoot pesky squirrels; a character is mentioned to commit suicide; Satan is described to be talking to a character; sexual exploitation and violence are reported to have occurred in the army; a child is mentioned to have drowned; a character is mentioned to have hanged self.

Sex/Nudity:  Sex is mentioned; gays are referred to; a man implies that pre-marital sex occurred; teen boys lose their virginity to each other, no detail is given; gay sex is mentioned to occur; prostitutes are mentioned to offer sex at a local establishment; two men have sex together in one brief non-descriptive scene; a nude man having sex is observed in one very brief mention; a man is said to buy a book with pictures of nude men in it; students (minors) are implied to be sexually active.

Mature Subject Matter:

Loss of a loved one, death, sex/gender identity issues, homosexuality, teenage sex, gay sex, suicide.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

An adult smokes; pot is mentioned; adults drink cognac; adults drink beer.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.