Thursday 8 June 2017

Book Review: Lonesome Lies Before Us by Don Lee

Title: Lonesome Lies Before Us
Author: Don Lee
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co
Publication Date: 6 June 2017
Pages: 288
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

In novel form, a contemporary alt-country ballad of heartbreak, failure, love, and unquenchable yearning. Drawn to the music of indie singer-songwriters like Will Johnson, who helped shape the lyrics in this book, Don Lee has written a novel that unforgettably captures America’s yearnings. 

Yadin Park is a talented alt-country musician whose career has floundered— doomed first by his homely looks and lack of stage presence and then by a progressive hearing disorder. His girlfriend, Jeanette Matsuda, might have been a professional photographer but for a devastating heartbreak in her teens. Now Yadin works for Jeanette’s father’s carpet-laying company in California while Jeanette cleans rooms at a local resort.

When Yadin’s former lover and musical partner, the celebrated Mallory Wicks, comes back into his life, private hopes and dreams are exposed and secret fantasies about love and success are put to the test. Beautifully sad and laced with dark humor, Lonesome Lies Before Us is a profound, heartfelt romance, a soulful and memorable song. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Lonesome Lies Before Us has a lot going for it. The story idea is interesting, and I loved the way Lee ties in with the ideas of alt-country music, making the novel mirror a song. As a keen amateur musician myself, I could appreciate Yadin's struggles and understand his predicament. Like most creatives, he's trapped between the desire to pursue his dreams and the realisation that such a life isn't financially viable. I enjoyed reading Yadin and Jeanette's tale, yet I would have liked to connect with them on a deeper level. Throughout, I felt that my care for them, and how their stories would end, was peripheral. For me, this book hovers between 3.5 and 4 stars. I would recommend it for readers of light literary fiction who are also into music and looking for tales in that setting.

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