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Ilhem

Ilhem

The Celestial - Barry Brennessel Truth be told, my gut rating is slightly under 4 stars but I rounded it up because this story has such endearing qualities that I want to champion it (not that it’s necessary, when you see its ratings).The Celestial is a ‘voice’ type of story. It is told in the 1st person POV, its rhythm given by short sentences that require a little time to get used to. I don’t know if they belong to the author’s usual style but they eventually fit to deliver the thoughts of a certainly well-mannered, yet basically educated, simple young man."(…) As Ma has said plenty of times, I’ve always been an owdacious one.”One night, Todd Webster Morgan leaves his Ma’s house to fulfil his dreams of riches and claim his part in the gold rush. When this dream turns to a sudden end, a new adventure begins, that make him cross part of the country with an unexpected sidekick and send him on the path to become a man.Through misadventures and encounters, small details and secondary characters, this story depicts America in the post civil war years, thus embarking the reader in a most interesting time travel as well as an endearing coming-of-age story. Todd Webster has the innocence and curiosity of youth. Everything is possible and the world is his. Yet, he shows a down-to-earth common sense, is determined, unafraid to stand up for himself and others and his humour and sharpness are the signature of an agile mind reflecting upon his contemporaries and humanity in general.He’s got bite and spunk and a mouth to go with! You will have understood it by now, his voice gives this story all its charm.Todd Webster meets Lao Jian early in the story and he leads his ‘courtship’ and relationship just as he leads the rest of his life: wide-eyed, open, heart on the sleeve and never conceding defeat.Their burgeoning love and the interracial aspect play their part in the time travel and coming-of age story. I won’t linger on them, let’s just say that Lao Jian unknowingly summed it up perfectly and that Voltaire's "we must cultivate our garden" meets this sample of Chinese wisdom:”It’s a proverb,” Lao Jian explained.” It goes, ‘Nurture the plant one year; ten days of flowers’.My only reserve comes from an overall mixed impression that is probably due to the writing.I can’t help feeling that it was sometimes the monotonous-sounding analogy of a sepia picture whose stiff postures and colour reflect indeed an era but make it trickier to capture life.I nevertheless recommend to give this book a try : it is interesting, refreshing and warming.