Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lowboy - John Wray

Lowboy takes place in the subways of Manhattan, and tells the story of Will Heller, a 16-year old paranoid schizophrenic who has disappeared from a mental health institution intent on solving the problem of global warming by reuniting with the girl who got him into all this trouble in the first place. The narrative alternates between Will's own jumbled first-person account, and the story of his worried mother attempting to help the police find her child. I'm interested in learning more about the author's background with schizophrenia and the research he did to write from the perspective of a character suffering from this disease. The chapters about Will do an amazing job of recreating the world of someone driven by an obsessive need, who hears voices, and sees the world just a bit differently from the average preson. As a reader, I could feel Will's urgency and frustration. The chapters involving Will's mother and the detective who is searching for him were also quite interesting. I found myself so annoyed by the detective who is determined to paint Will as a dangerous criminal - and my heart ached for his mother who wants so desperately to protect her child. The story unravels in a way that doesn't entirely satisfy, though the nature of the relationship between Will and his mother plays out in a way that made me want to go back and read the entire book over again with new insight. While there's a lot of movement in this book, there isn't a great deal that happens in terms of plot. What I found most interesting was the method of the storytelling, and Wray's attempt to get inside Will's mind in an effort to understand a very tragic and difficult disease.

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