4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Gripping, haunting and moving,
This review is from: A Marker to Measure Drift (Hardcover)
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I thought this was an excellent book. It's a slow, intimate portrait of Jacqueline, a survivor of the dreadful last days of the Charles Taylor regime in Liberia who has fled and ended up, destitute, on the Greek island of Santorini. There is very little action for much of the book's length; the narrative is concerned almost entirely with Jacqueline's inner state, her response to her new circumstances and the scattered, hinted-at memories of her contented, privileged past and the terrible events which brought her here.
Maksik writes exceptionally well. He has a deceptively gentle, almost lyrical style which captures the place and Jacqueline's internal state very well indeed. He also has a remarkable depth of understanding and an ability to convey Jacqueline's combination of vulnerability and resilience which made this an absolutely riveting read for me. The narrative hints for much of its length at fragments of the full horror of what Jacqueline has experienced and witnessed so there is a building sense of tension which gives the story some real drive. I found the imaginary mental conversations she has with her mother completely convincing. Her responses, too, to events on the island and people she meets are exceptionally well depicted, and I found her a fascinating and beautifully drawn character.
It's not all grimness and horror by any means. Maksik doesn't insult the events or the people he is writing about with facile notions of "closure" or the like, but there is a redemptive and hopeful note in Jacqueline's inner strength and in some of the simple human kindness which she encounters. When the full revelation of the horror comes, it is with a kind of catharsis and the hint of a beginning of healing, and I found it exemplary in expressing dreadful but necessary things in an honest and human way.
I found this book gripping, haunting, moving and deeply thought-provoking and I recommend it very warmly.