Heartbreaking. This book is emotional and deep and not for the faint of heart. Although it's a turn from my normal light-hearted novels, I was pulled into the gloomy and often dark world of Charlie and I couldn't escape from its magnetism of brokenness and resilience.
I think I may have connected with the book on such a relatable level because the setting was so familiar to me. At one time I worked at a treatment facility just like the one in the book, with kids just like those in the book, with protocol and structure just like that in the book. It was like taking a step back in time. Charlie could have been a number of kids that I worked with back then.
Right from the beginning, it is very apparent that this child has had a difficult life. His mother has placed him on the outskirts of her life, only to be picked up when she wants something to play with. And just when you think that Charlie's life is already crummy enough, it gets 100 times worse.
The characters were all very well-written. They were realistic and each person made an impact in the story. The author was able to blend every personality together to weave a very tragic story.
The only flaw for me was the prolonged "interruptions" about Darwinism theory that Charlie either related to his life or had flashbacks of. I get that it was a large part of his personality and correlated with how Charlie viewed his current life situation, but it became very lengthy at times and I found myself skipping pages to get back to the "action" of the story.
Overall, this was a very engaging, well-written book with characters who all conveyed tangible tragedy and despair. I give it a rating of 4.5/5 with a slight detraction for the constant swing back to science and evolution, only because I was so invested in the forward progress of the book and that hit the pause button on it for me.
by Heather Nelson (via NetGalley)
The character development was excellent & I thoroughly enjoyed the twists of the plot. The narrative was complex & compelling. I found myself caring about Charlie, the protagonist, within the first few pages. The relationship between Charlie & his mother was well-defined, thought heart wrenching. This novel is very character driven.
Dyed Souls by Gary Santorella is a classic in philosophical literature. A very touching 5 star, must-read story
Poor Charles! My motherly instincts wanted to wrap my arms around him and take care of him forever… and that is great writing! From the first page until the last Santorella invites us deep into the psyche of a troubled teenage boy. I wondered all the way through this book if it was the author’s own story because it reads much like an autobiographical novel, especially the last chapter. On reflection, I believe there is a mix of truth and fiction in this tale, whether that stems from personal knowledge in some way or from massive research doesn’t matter, was this truth – or very cleverly written fiction, does is make this a book that moved me and brought tears to my eyes.
With thoroughly compelling characters, and Gary Santorella’s eloquent and sensitive writing style you will find it hard to put this book out of your mind once you have put it down.
Charles is a recluse, retreating from his pain and loneliness into a world of books and internal dialogue. Abandoned, yet again, by his drug addicted mother, he tries to crawl into a shell of words and learning. Some parts of the story, Charles’ discoveries are very philosophical and deep as he struggles to understand what life is all about. There are a number of strong characters in the book. Margo, what a poor mixed up girl, yet his love of her helps to bring Charles out of isolation. Javier, was another strong teenager that helped to bring more depth and meaning into Charles life which encourages him to start really noticing his peers for the first time since arriving at the Residential Treatment Village.
The blurb does not carry a warning of rape content and I believe it should, this is a ‘trigger’ that some readers cannot read. That said, the very short scene is done simply without graphics, and is integral to the storyline.
There is one beautiful line in the book that for me sums up this emotional story… “The soul would have no rainbow, if the eyes had no tears.”
This novel is a moving, heart-felt masterpiece that deserves a place on your bookcase. Dyed Souls by Gary Santorella is highly recommended by Artisan Book Reviews.
Reviewed by TN Traynor for Artisan Book Reviews.
by Artisan Book Reviews