A. M. Homes truly immerses the reader into the narrative bringing three-dimensional, highly realistic and emotional (or in Harry’s case emotionless) characters that are immensely humorous and full of life. From the offset it is clear that Harry is trying to find his way in life, his narrative seems very monotone with no variation – and it is only thanks to events with George and his wife that Harry must confront his demons which ultimately, flips his whole world upside down – but in a good way!
Homes’ style of writing reflects this emotionless state through the dialogue. There is never any connecting adjectives – it is full of ‘he says’ and ‘she says’ and I find this deeply humorous when confronted with Harry’s challenges. There are a lot of laugh out loud moments as he is finding his way in life and you can’t help but smile as he comes to terms with his situation and his new role; many of these scenarios bringing a comical twist to typical everyday occurrences – made even more funny through his lack of understanding and generally distant emotional position.
Harry is a very progressive character because of this; in the beginning he is confused, unsure in life and generally just drifting in and out of each day and living his normal mundane life that he has inhabited for years. As events unfold and new exciting, bold, totally-un-Harry like situations occur, you can see his character start to come to terms with who he is. He tries out new experiences and questions himself throughout regarding whether his decisions are good or bad, he puts himself in danger multiple times (mostly through no fault of his own), and he builds a life for himself that – ultimately, he did not expect or intentionally want for himself. It is only in the last 100 pages that emotion really starts to come through. A life altering trip that puts everything into perspective helps him to realise that he is where he wants to be in life and he wouldn’t change the events of the past year, and surprisingly, all the characters that he has encountered throughout his journey have also made life-altering decisions or come of age.
On the flip side is Harry’s brother George; a man high up in the food change with a raging temper that gets the better of him. From the offset things go wrong for him and continue to slip and slide throughout the narrative – he is entirely un-progressive compared to Harry. Banished from his family through his crimes, his mind seems to fall away from him as he mentally locks himself away from what he has done and attempts to put the blame on Harry. However, it is also clear that Harry, George – and later Nate (George’s son) do share similarities in personality and temperament – though Harry, and in particular Nate, come to terms with who they want to be early on within the novel.
I felt that the ending to the novel fitted in well with the themes of finding oneself and coming of age as members of the family, and the friends they have met along the way come together in a sign of friendship and community. There is a sense that all is right in the world and everyone is where they want to be, or at least on the right path. It’s a “happily ever after” moment that brings a happy and contented smile to a crazy, humorous plot-line.