Review of The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Hello Everyone! I apologize that I’ve been a bit slow at posting reviews. My job picked up a bit and I haven’t had as much time to read as I did earlier in the summer but with some better planning I’ll get back on track with my reading/reviewing schedule for August! Without further ado, here’s my review of The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens:

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens was the June pick for my book club and I absolutely devoured it! In this heartwarming, yet suspenseful tale, Joe Talbert sets out to complete a college writing assignment which involves interviewing someone and writing his or her biography. Given his difficult family life, he chooses to interview Carl Iverson who is a convicted murdered released from prison to spend his final days in a nursing home. As Joe learns more and more about Carl’s story, he becomes motivated to uncover the truth behind his conviction. With the help of his neighbor Lila, he begins a race against the clock to seek justice for Carl before he succumbs to his cancer.

The juxtaposition between the struggles that Carl faced, both in Vietnam and in prison, and Joe’s broken home is the main reason why I absolutely loved this book. In one of Joe and Carl’s first meetings, Carl assumes that Joe has never faced any sort of adversity in his life which prompts Joe to react quite strongly. The idea that you cannot judge anyone based on how they look or labels that have been placed on them is such an important and powerful theme that Eskens expertly brings to life throughout the course of this thriller.

Moreover, I was particularly impressed with portrayal of each character. Eskens did a remarkable job of creating characters that were authentically flawed and relatable. Even though I had never experienced exactly what Joe was going through or exactly what Carl was going through, I could relate to their pain and guilt so easily, which is a tribute to Eskens’ exquisite imagery and character development. I was particularly impressed with the portrayal ofJeremy, Joe’s autistic brother. Oftentimes I feel as though characters with special needs are made into caricatures of their disability yet, Eskens did a phenomenal job of finding Jeremy’s voice and making him defined by more than his autism. There was also a tremendous amount of depth to Joe’s mother’s character as well as Lila which I felt took the story line to another level.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book! The twists and turns of this heartwarming thriller left me breathless, but the ending made all the heart palpitations worth it! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone because the characters and themes are so incredibly engaging. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read this book & keep an eye out for my review of Britt-Marie Was Here which will be up later this week!

5 out of 5 stars

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