Received a copy of The Son Of A Certain Woman By Wayne Johnston through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. The great thing about the First Reads Giveaway is that I get the chance to read Canadian authors that I may never have gotten exposed to otherwise.
Think 12 and Holding meets Modern Family, and Malena with an incestuous touch (which may be an improper choice of words). I have read quite a few books with different subject matter, but this one has managed to cover new ground that definitely tested my comfort level.
This is a story of a boy named Percy Joyce who was born with a "benign" version of a congenital syndrome which in jest throughout the novel is referred to by mother and son as False Someone Syndrome. Given Percy's physical condition of port wine stains on his body, his disproportionate size of lower lip, feet and hands he seems to ride on the sunny side of the street. Eventually, like everyone that has physical drawbacks they have longings for physical relations with people of the opposite sex. This coming of age aspect of the story proves relevant consistently from start to finish. Percy expressed in the novel that given his condition he was born with an overabundance of blood-engorged capillaries that luckily stayed clear of his brain, later in the novel we eventually find out where they manifested.
Growing up I was able to bear witness to the positives and negatives of the great principle "Give Me Myth or Give Me Death". Sure, deceiving others with respect to physical scarring will lead them to other forms of immature entertainment, but it will leave with the long lasting distinction of being a liar. In Percy's case it lead to some form of public acceptance but in the end it will it rear its ugly head and lead his inner acceptance of the wants and needs of those in the outside world?
Another prevalent theme found in the novel is that of Religion, specifically speaking is that of Catholicism in the 1950's. I reference the time period only in that my experiences in a Catholic School were vastly different than the ones experienced by Percy and his peers. Having religion taught to us an hour a week in primary school, an hour a day for a semester in secondary school, going to school mass once a month I never had the feeling or pressure found within the pages of this book. Perhaps being in a region with the type of presence Catholicism had would lead to a pronounced indoctrination of the public to their religious ideals.
I liked how 44 or the Joyce home was regarded as its own character or alien planet with its own set of idealogies, legislature, and religion in comparison to the world that was situated around them. It was made to seem as an impenetrable safe haven where the inhabitants were free to be who they truly were without any repercussions. Penelope often referred to the fact that 44 was unlike any other house on the Mount, and given the time and neighboring ways of life, she wasn't lying.
I thought the story dragged a little a long the journey but all and all it was paced well. The author also managed to strike many thoughts, feelings, and emotions while I was reading. From sympathy to the way Pops was habitually treated, to laughter at Percy's blessing of the fleet and Penelope showcasing her cheerleading prowess. However; none were more defined than my anger and sadness for the treatment of Penny and Percy at the hands of holier than thou Brother McHugh and Sister Celestine's tormenting of a young Medina.
This was a great trip to 1950's Newfoundland filled with a cornucopia of experiences and I look forward to joining Wayne Johnston on another adventure in the near future.