Review: The Call by Yannick Murphy

December 8, 2011 General Fiction, Harper Perennial, Literary Fiction, Review 8

  • Paperback:240 pages
  • Publisher:Harper Perennial; Original edition (August 2, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0062023144
  • Source: Purchased

David Appleton is a small-town veterinarian in a rural New England town. His family is struggling economically, people are unable to pay to have their animals treated. When a hunting accident puts his twelve-year old son in a coma, an entirely new level of stress is put upon the shoulders of this already struggling family. Appleton becomes obsessed with discovering the identify of the hunter that shot his son.  After all, in a small town, there are a limited number of suspects.

When a stranger shows up in town, his interactions with the family put a completely different spin on their life, testing them, forcing them to re-evaluate what it means to be a family.

Through a series of journal like-entries, the reader gets a glimpse inside the mind of Appleton.  Here is an example:

CALL: Sick sheep.
ACTION: Visited sheep. Noticed they’d eaten all of the thistle.
RESULT: Talked to owner, who is a composer, about classical music. Admired his tall barn beams. Advised owner to fence off thistle so the sheep couldn’t eat it. Sheep become sick from thistle.
THOUGHTS ON THE DRIVE HOME:  Is time travel possible? Maybe time is not a thing. Because light takes a while to travel, what we’re seeing is always in the past.

The entries start off brief and to the point, but as the book progresses the entries expand, showing a side of this man.  Murphy shows his caring and endearing side through his interactions with his animal patients, the care he gives each of them is heartwarming. Additionally, the formatting permits the reader to see what the main character believes is important and valuable to share. While it is blunt and to the point, the words that are shared reveal much more than a long, flowing passage might. The author’s own familiarity with the subject matter as a wife of a veterinarian really adds to the book. Ultimately, The Call is not solely a man’s journal about his visits to treat animals. It’s a unique glimpse on one family’s trials and tribulations, about what it takes to be a “real” family. On the surface, it seems simple, but simple is the last word I would use to describe this book. Gritty, harrowing, deep. Those are more accurate descriptions of this phenomenal novel.

The book club I lead at One More Page Books recently discussed this book. Why did I pick it? Other than the obvious, I believed it was a book that could be overlooked (and has been, according to Flavorwire).  Why is this? Could it be the formatting? The description on the back of the book (which I frankly think reads like a Hallmark card)?  While there were members of the book club who were still on the fence about their feelings on the book, many of us appreciated the uniqueness of this novel.  It is a book that will make you think, one that you will want to talk about with others, but most importantly, a book that must be read.  Highly recommended.


8 Responses to “Review: The Call by Yannick Murphy”

  1. Michelle
    Twitter: michelleerin

    I really need to get to this one. I’ve had a copy for quite some time. Now you’ve got me interested again.

  2. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    Both Mr. BFR and I really liked this one. It’s one that I would love to hand-sell.

  3. Anita
    Twitter: anitalovesbooks

    Your review is the first I’ve heard of this book. I think I’d like the format.

  4. Amused
    Twitter: amusedbybooks

    This is one of those books I think I would really enjoy since I love a good farm/vet story. I like the fact that its written a little unusually too!

  5. Marie

    Very nice review. I enjoyed this one, too, but it looks like you got more out of it than I did. I’d still recommend it to others.

  6. Keija

    I loved this book so much! It’s poignant and artfully done. Just bought it for my sister for Christmas. Thanks for giving it some much-deserved attention.