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Bloomland : a novel by John Englehardt

Bloomland : a novel

by John Englehardt

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‘But everyone has heard this story before, which means it only changes the world for a moment, the same way the snow falling at night can be gone in the morning.’

A mass shooting on a university campus leaves 12 people dead. A community profoundly altered. An unimaginable grief. John Englehardt’s debut novel is a quiet, reflective piece that shifts perspective between three characters caught up in the events: Rose, a student on campus; Eddie, whose wife Casey is one of those killed; and Eli, the shooter, another student at the university. Moving back and forward in time the narrative gives each of the character’s points of view, but from a second-person narrative voice. This is the fourth main character, if you like, although we learn little about the speaker, a university professor called Dr Bressinger who is somehow linked to all three of the other main characters.

We are, sadly, all to familiar with these types of mass shooting in America, so what does Englehardt bring that is new to this novel? Well, perhaps nothing surprising, but it is a sensitive piece of writing that brings out the personal stories of those caught up in the killings. We are never encouraged to feel sympathy for Eli, but we do come to understand him and his actions. It seems like a typical story: a loner, dabbling in drugs, playing violent video games. But these are the newspaper headlines, the howls of protest from a society that will care about the tragedy for a few days and then move on to something else. It is the individuals involved who have to live with the effects every day, and the book spends time on the trial and sentencing of Eli as it, and Eddie, seek some sort of closure.

This is a beautifully written meditation on grief, on loneliness, on faith; it is a subtle exploration of how we try to make sense of a senseless act, of how we can manage to continue to find beauty in a world so full of anger. And it is a profoundly human novel, whose characters are at the heart of everything. The narrative style works here, as there is an immediate connection with the characters and the figure of Dr Bressinger. An understated piece of writing, this fully deserves to be read. 4 stars. ( )
  Alan.M | Sep 7, 2019 |
The publisher of DZANCBOOKS sent me an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Synopsis: "Bloomland opens during finals week at a fictional southern university, when a student walks into the library with his roommate’s semi-automatic rifle and opens fire. When he stops shooting, twelve people are dead.

In this richly textured debut, John Englehardt explores how the origin and aftermath of the shooting impacts the lives of three characters: a disillusioned student, a grieving professor, and a young man whose valuation of fear and disconnection funnels him into the role of the aggressor. As the community wrestles with the fallout, Bloomland interrogates social and cultural dysfunction in a nation where mass violence has become all too familiar."

1st off, Wow this is a book that we didn't know we needed to read. With so much going on in today's society, reading Bloomland and how the stories are told from a 2nd POV is amazing and we'll written. The novel is 200 pages, but during the read it's a real rollercoaster of emotions. You want more, we want more. I can honestly see this on the big screen.

John Englehardt is the writter to watch out for.

My favorite quote from the book:

"Sometimes hate is the only thing I can love." ( )
  tomasitoreads | Aug 19, 2019 |
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