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Atticus: Novel, A by Ron Hansen
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Atticus: Novel, A (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Ron Hansen

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4271324,721 (3.72)28
Member:lisaannegregory
Title:Atticus: Novel, A
Authors:Ron Hansen
Info:Harper Perennial (1997), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Atticus by Ron Hansen (1996)

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Rancher Atticus Cody doesn't understand his youngest son, Scott, but he loves him anyway. 40-year-old Scott is a troubled man who never really grew up. He suffers from some form of mental illness (probably bipolar disorder), and there is a hint of past tragedy that resulted in the death of Scott's mother/Atticus's wife. Although Atticus seems to have forgiven Scott (if he ever held it against him to begin with), Scott doesn't seem to have forgiven himself. Not long after Scott's Christmas visit, Atticus receives a call from Mexico, where Scott has been living. Scott has killed himself, and Atticus must go to Mexico to settle his estate. As Atticus examines the remnants of Scott's life and learns the details of his death, he begins to see incongruities between what he hears and what he observes. The evidence points to murder rather than suicide, and Atticus won't leave until his questions have been answered.

This novel is a modern retelling of the parable of the Prodigal Son. Catholic religious themes run throughout the book. Scott lived in a town called Resurrección, a name that also carries religious symbolism. The father in the Prodigal Son symbolizes God, and Atticus is likened to God in a conversation in the novel. Most readers will also associate him with Atticus Finch, the father in To Kill a Mockingbird. When Atticus is questioned about this in the novel, he replies that “Up until the sixties I had the name to myself.” While that may be true in the fictional universe of the novel, in the world of literature Atticus Finch preceded Atticus Cody by several decades. Since Atticus is such an unusual name, most readers wouldn't have needed the lines drawn for them to make that connection. It's tempting to read this as a crime novel since murder is involved, but when read through that lens it peaks too early. It's better to read it as the literary fiction it is. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jul 2, 2017 |
From the book jacket: Ron Hansen’s new novel opens in winter [in] Colorado, where rancher Atticus Cody receives an unexpected visit from his wayward young son. An artist and wanderer, Scott has recently settled into a life of heavy drinking and recklessness among expatriates and Mexicans in the little town of Resurreccion on the Caribbean coast. Weeks later, Atticus himself goes down to Mexico to recover the body of his son, thinking he has committed suicide. Puzzled by what he finds, he begins to suspect that Scott has been murdered.

My reactions
In many ways this story echoes the parable of the Prodigal Son from the bible. While there is certainly a mystery at its core, the novel is more about the father-son relationship: the father’s fierce and unfaltering love for his son, the son’s need to atone for past mistakes and despair at feeling unable to make amends, and the failure of both of them to openly communicate and understand one another.

The plot has several twists and turns that kept me intrigued and turning pages. But the star of the novel, to me, was the writing and the exploration of these characters and their motivations. I was completely engrossed in their story, and wanted to cheer at the end. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 22, 2016 |
Atticus. Ron Hansen. 1996. When he is notified that his younger son has killed himself in Mexico, Atticus Cody goes to Resurreccion bring Scott’s body back home. Scott was the “difficult” son who had been in and out of mental hospital but, Atticus’ love for his son never waivers. As Atticus searches for answers to Scott’s suicide, the story of Scott’s tortured life is revealed. This is a beautiful retelling of the parable of the prodigal son. I have also read two other books by Hansen: Mariette in Ecstasy (the story of a nun with a stigmata) and Exiles (an account of a ship wreck in which 5 nuns were killed that led Gerard Manley Hopkins to write “The Wreck of the Deutschland.” Hansen’s style reminds me of Richard Russo. ( )
  judithrs | May 12, 2014 |
if you like western flavored mystery and really obvious religious overtones, this is the book for you. tedious and depressing. only read because I had to for a class. ( )
  k8seren | Feb 6, 2014 |
Scott is 40 years old and still disappointing himself and his father, Atticus. A promising artist who is at the mercy of his Bipolar Disease. Scott uses his trust fund to evade responsibility by living the life of an expat in Mexico. When Atticus gets the call from Scott's friend, Renata, that he has committed suicide, Atticus leaves his Colorado ranch for Mexico to learn as much as he can about his son's last days.

This is an intense page-turner about a father's unflagging love for his son and the forgiveness that comes out of that love. I recommend this literary mystery where persistence in the face of grief unravels the truth. ( )
2 vote Donna828 | May 25, 2010 |
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His name was Atticus Cody.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060927860, Paperback)

Colorado rancher Atticus Cody receives word that his wayward younger son, Scott, has committed suicide in Resurrection, Mexico. When Atticus travels south to recover Scott's body, he is puzzled by what he finds there and begins to suspect murder. Illuminating those often obscure chambers of the human heart, Atticus is the story of a father's steadfast and almost unfathomable love for his son, a mystery that Ron Hansen's fiction explores with a passion and intensity no reader will be able to resist.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Atticus is a suspenseful murder mystery, in which a father uncovers the story of his son's death, fitting together the pieces of the mosaic that was his life in Mexico--and encountering a group of disturbing characters along the way.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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