Review: The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy

June 25, 2013 Harper Books, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Review 11

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (June 11, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0062112244
  • Source: Publisher

In Simon Van Booy’s most recent masterpiece, he explores how characters that are seemingly unrelated are tied together, responsible for one another’s fate.The one thing that ties each of these individuals together is a seemingly insignificant act of kindness, an act that might have immediate meaning but instead developing in intensity as time passes. Like the phenomenon known as the butterfly effect, the actions of these characters have resounding effects and repercussions. Based on actual stories, this novel spans quite a bit of time, from New York in 1939 to World War II France, fast forwarding seven decades later to England and Los Angeles in 2010.

The characters are what truly bring this novel together into one truly brilliant piece of art. Hugo is a former German soldier, forever disfigured by war. Decades later, he continues to atone for his crimes. Martin works in a retirement home, Hugo is the most recent resident. Amelia is in her twenties, blind, searching for love as she works to create programs that benefit the blind at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. John survived after his B-52 plane crashed over France, eventually joining the French resistance. Initially, this large magnitude of characters may appear confusing but the joy is in discovering how the lives of each of these individuals are intertwined.

Van Booy’s true skill is the magnitude in his brevity. In just a few short words, he can provide more meaning than what another author may provide in pages of detail. Each sentence is clearly well plotted out, each and every word has a purpose and meaning.  The revelation of each of the characters involvement in each other’s fate isn’t readily revealed; Van Booy provides his readers with a treat in devouring his eloquent prose as they pull away the veil of illusion that separates them.

I honestly do not think any other writer could have accomplished what Van Booy has done in The Illusion of Separateness. The premise is not necessarily a new or unique one, but Van Booy’s execution of these interconnecting story is what makes this novel so profound. In just a few short words, he evokes an overwhelming amount of emotion, bonding reader to character instantaneously. We forgive the characters for any crimes or ill-actions in their past, instantly developing a feeling of sympathy and adoration for what they have endured and for the gift they have given to one another.

The Illusion of Separateness, like all of Van Booy’s work I have read, has quite a profound effect on my life. Despite the fact that we all may have times in which we feel insignificant, each of us have some sort of impact on the world, be it big or small. It is up to us to decide just how large our footprint on the world will be. It is this sort of thinking and contemplation that truly outstanding writing evokes from me. Thank you, Simon Van Booy, for reminding me to strive farther and reach higher.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to review this title. Please be sure to check out the other stops in this tour.

11 Responses to “Review: The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy”

  1. Brooke Lee

    I’m on this tour as well and now I’m even more ridiculously excited to get started on this one. I know I’m going to love it. Great review!

  2. Meg
    Twitter: writemeg

    Simon Van Booy is a new-to-me author, and it sounds like I am majorly missing out! Books that inspire that kind of contemplation are definitely the ones I want to read. Adding this to my wishlist.

  3. Shannon @ River City Reading
    Twitter: rivercityreadin

    It’s such a gorgeous book that I think will become a “classic” on my shelves, one I’ll come back to regularly. I really hope that tons of people pick it up, it deserves so much praise.

  4. Laura Fabiani

    This is the first time I read this author. I just posted my review and wanted to see what other readers were saying. Your review is so eloquent! You summed it all so well.

  5. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours
    Twitter: age30books

    I have to admit that I’m woefully lacking in that I haven’t read anything by Van Booy yet … looks like I need to remedy that because this book sounds amazing.

    Thanks for being on the tour Jenn!