Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: Our Endless Numbered Days

Our Endless Numbered Days
Claire Fuller
Tin House Books, 2015
Source: purchased
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

In Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller presents a beautiful landscape where young Peggy grows up in an isolated cabin with her father.  They left from their London home and traveled to this far away destination when she was only eight and she believes the rest of the world was destroyed. Peggy grows up knowing only what her father tells her, believing they are the only ones left in this world, until she sees evidence of someone else alive in their lonely little world. Coupled with chapters from the present where Peggy is back home in London with her mother, it is evident right away that there is something very wrong.

I had a difficult time with this book because the descriptions of the scenery went on and on.  Although they were beautiful, I found myself skipping over some of those and getting to the sections where something was happening.  Anything.  The beginning of the book was also hard to get through.  It describes her time at home with her father before they left London for the cabin in the woods, but there was an awful lot of background being built in.  From the beginning I knew there was something very very wrong--even more than what is revealed from the blurb on the back.

It wasn't until about halfway through that I even felt the need to get to the end.  I did have an idea of what the "surprise reveal" was pretty early on in the story.  So although I needed to understand how things went down, I was hoping the entire time that I was wrong.  The reveal wasn't even much of a reveal by the time I got to those last two pages.  That's right folks.  You get two pages to deal with this.  And it's intense enough that more than two pages is needed to process everything.  This is coming from someone who guessed it pretty early on.  The ending just soured the entire story for me and what would have been an okay book, became a not great book.  It felt like a desperate attempt at shocking me, even when it didn't (although the reveal is shocking in itself, I wasn't surprised because I had been worried about it from early on).  I felt like someone was trying to trick me, only not very well.

As for the characters, Peggy is stuck in her eight year old understanding of life.  She questions her father, but not quite in the way a 17 year old would.  She still thinks of her best friend from childhood as an eight year old girl and her feelings for her best friend are very childish.  Yet she's living in the body of a seventeen year old girl and not quite understanding everything that she should.  There is a lot that I'm still not sure about with Peggy.

Despite her father being a major catalyst for so much and being the only character Peggy has interactions with for most of the novel, he was almost a side character--but not quite.  He seems to be suffering from bipolar disorder, but if it's truly that or if these manic and depressive episodes are brought on more by their situation I'm not sure.  He did seem to get obsessed with ideas even before he took Peggy out to the wilderness, though.  Nonetheless, he just seemed to be there, something she had to deal with and figure out in order to survive.

Our Endless Numbered Days, although written beautiful, has some pretty big flaws that all come at you in the end.  This one might be finding its way into the donate pile.

Image Source: Goodreads

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