A Ladder to the Sky
Book Review - A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
Another John Boyne novel, and I couldn’t be happier. I first heard of John Boyne from Abdi Nazemian, author of The Authentics, a book I selected for my Virtual Book Club in December of 2017. A few weeks later, Abdi emailed me and suggested that I read and review The Heart's Invisible Furies. Abdi's exact words were that it "blew me away" adding, "Truly, this book touched me more than any I've read in years, and I've been recommending it far and wide." The Heart’s Invisible Furies, which is the first John Boyne book I read and reviewed, is still one of my favorite novels. Just like Abdi, I continue to recommend it to anyone who is looking for a really beautifully written novel. So when John Boyne’s publicist reached out to me to let me know he had another book coming out this year, I was eager to accept an advanced reader’s copy so that I could start reading it right away. I wasn’t in the least disappointed.
A Ladder to the Sky is the story of an author, Maurice Swift - from where he got his start in the literary world to how his career seemingly came to an end…and everything in between. As the back of the book jacket says, this book is about ambition and how far one man was willing to go in order to succeed. But the higher you climb, the further you have to fall. Maurice left a lot of wreckage in his wake as he pursued his dream of being a notable author.
What I loved most about this book, besides John Boyne’s beautiful writing style (of which I’m a huge fan!) is how several sections of this book were written from the perspective of other characters but the book was entirely about Maurice’s life. The first section is written from the perspective of Erich Ackermann, the established author that helped launch Maurice’s career. The second section is written from the perspective of Edith, Maurice’s wife. The final two sections are written from the perspective of Maurice himself. Each character revealing a little about themselves and a lot about Maurice’s life.
The two books I’ve read by John Boyne have both spanned a significant amount of time - really covering most of the character’s adult life. But I never get the sense that we are skimming over the character’s life. On the contrary, I always feel like I’m getting a deep understanding of a very complex character. And John Boyne’s characters are nothing if not complex, multifaceted characters worthy of discussion. This book is best read as part of a book club, I would love the opportunity to discuss this book with other readers!