Book Review: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I read a lot and occassionally throw together a review over on Goodreads and decided I might as well post them here as well.

Beautiful Ruins

Jumbled tired thoughts:

There’s something compelling about a story that makes you feel like you’re in the present and getting peeks at the future, rather than in the present while the past is rehashed. Experiencing both timelines simultaneously – the present and the future – leaves the reader feeling both hopeful and melancholy. A reminder of just how small or just how grand life can be. All decided by a few key choices and a few important moments.

3.5 stars for me. Not the best book I’ve ever read but better than many I’ve given 3 stars to here in the past. It’s like cheese – not quite junk food, not anything “good” for you, but its dairy so you convince yourself that the calcium makes it worth it and makes it ok that you’re eating it out of the package at midnight, standing in an oversized tshirt with bare feet while holding the refrigerator door open with your hip, the only light in a darkened house.

Beautiful Ruins felt like it was trying to say something new and deep about love or time or love over time and it never quite got there.

There was a moment about halfway through where the book felt finished. That’s not to say the rest wasn’t needed or well written. I took a break from the text and felt simply satisfied. The book goes on, of course, and you get all the answers and all the endings and all the neatly tied packages that you want and that’s all well and good. Tied up a little too pretty? Maybe. But I don’t fault the story for that. It doesn’t take anything away to have it all end neatly, as it may in some books and in the hands of some writers.

Being completely out of the loop, I had wrongly assumed the author was female. Something about this book feels feminine. I mean that as a compliment – soft and comfortable and nurturing and graceful.

A couple quotes from the book that struck a chord:

“…how much easier life would be if our intentions and our desires could always been aligned.”

“Rather, he found himself inhabiting the vast, empty plateau where most people live, between boredom and contentment.”

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

  1. Sim says:

    I can’t read your whole review – I’m on p 299 of 337 – but unless the ending offers a sharp turn, I think walter’s book is gorgeous and poignant. The multiple settings, timelines and compelling characters should make for a fine film.

  2. angiedet says:

    I agree. I should’ve noted that the 3.5 rating is out of 5. There’s some incredibly peaceful about this book, despite the troubles the characters faced.

  3. Cassie says:

    I’ve looked at this one every time I’ve entered a bookstore lately. I’m just not totally sold and you explained why for me, so thank you. : )

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