Description from Goodreads: Love, Life, and Logic captures the individual struggle of a young man against the seemingly unnamed, unknown, anonymous power of the universe. In a shocking revelation of his innermost thoughts, the book depicts a painful account of his emotional turmoil arising out of his own confusions and dilemmas, and his personal developments through all that.
Rohan grows up in a middle class family in a small town in Goa, India. He asks himself many life questions like we all do every day. Is our life and death an end in itself, or do they have a much deeper implication in a gigantic universal process? Is each human life also someway connected to the chain of events unfolding every day in front of our eyes? We all have different thumbprints; but why? Are we all a part of big numbers game, or does each one of us really matter?
Chased by these and many such questions, Rohan leaves his lucrative job and his family in search of the truth. The journey gets complicated when he meets Adeline, a 23-year old vivacious girl in Vienna. Love, again? That brings him back to question his failed marriage. Is marriage an end of the road for love? Do all marriages come with an expiration date?
It’s the search and the road leading to his final realization that makes this book insightful and thought-provoking.
Book Review: This is, unfortunately, another book where the description inflates what is otherwise a very simple book. Rohan is reeling from the recent emotional turmoil of ending his marriage, and the book contains his quest to discover what happened to him, to love, and to his life. He wants to have a meaningful existance, and he’s struggling to understand what his purpose could be, now that his marriage has failed.
It’s a very thoughtful and insightful look at a young “midlife crisis,” where one’s perspective changes from what one “must” do to what one “should” do, and the story moves the journey along at a pace that keeps things interesting rather than preachy. But, as a novel, there were some weaknesses. So here’s a closer look at the Narration, Content, Characters, Artwork, World-Building, and Overall Response.
Narration: Four out of Five. This is a unique book to analyze, because it’s goal doesn’t seem to be that of telling a good story but, rather, to take us on a intellectual journey. Thus, the description of people and places are launching points for thoughts and memories, so I didn’t really feel like I was in these places, experiencing them with their sights and smells and all the variety Singapore, India, and the Alps, for example, has to offer. Instead, I was experiencing it as Rohan saw it, which was fitting, since this is told in first person narration. And, while it would’ve been nice for him to get out of his head a little bit more, it’s understandable given who he is and what he’s dealing with.
Content: Four out of Five. For a story where a man leaves his failed marriage and embarks on a new relationship with a young woman, the book is very clean. There were a number of “fade to black” scenes, where we know what is going on but aren’t there for the details, and the language overall was appropriate for a thoughtful novel.
Interestingly, it feels like we are reading the very novel Rohan embarks on writing, in the end, making one wonder how much of the story is fiction and how much of it is somewhat autobiographical.
Characters: Three out of Five. This is one of the biggest weakness in the story. The characters, both major and minor, feel like different voices used to further the intellectual journey rather than well-rounded people. For example, I don’t know why Rohan can’t get back with Mimi, his wife, now that he knows about the importance of being honest in a relationship. We’re told they have different goals, and yet, she still seems to genuinely care about him and she’s never made having money that big a deal, when she was dating him, so I don’t understand the incompatibility.
And part of this is fueled by Rohan. He is presented as a thoughtful, caring man, yet I think he’s really just weak and selfish. He starts his adult life by following after his sister, trying to emulate her in his schooling. Then he latches onto Mimi and her ways and worldview. Finally, he’s got Adeline, and it feels like he just copies those around them, falling into step with them rather than standing up for himself or even discovering who “himself” is. Adeline does give him greater room than some, and, as Mimi notes, some birds do better when a cage door is left open, but it just seems like he was a passive character, receiving wisdom and impressions from others, taking rather than giving. Even as a father, he gives to his children because he doesn’t want to be seen as a bad father, because he wants to be a certain kind of person; his fathering is in many ways more for his own satisfaction than that of his kids. (Admittedly, he is now giving what he’s learned to others, but it felt like even his writing was more of a way of carving out his niche in the world and leaving an impression, and thus, more focused on him than on his readers.)
Artwork: Subjective. Personally, the cover image reminded me of a cross between Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and blue bowling pins. I think incorporating an image of birds, given their symbolic nature in the book (as Rohan and his family release birds into the wild as a way of making their family memories live on forever) would’ve been more representative of the book, or something depicting the sunset, the ants which he studied as a boy…the book is full of imagery that he uses to further his thoughts on life, and the cover didn’t seem to tie into any of them. But love, logic, and life are very difficult things to “show” in an image, and the artwork may have other connections or concepts behind it that I’m missing.
World-Building: Two out of Five. Again, this is heavily influenced by how much Rohan is in his head, but I never felt like I got to see any of the worlds in which Rohan lived. Austria, the Alps, Singapore, India, and Australia were all visited, yet they seemed to be the same place. The houses were a bit different, but we never got to interact, never got any idea that there was a world at all beyond Rohan’s thoughts.
And even Rohan’s worldview isn’t completely shown. He mentions “god” on a number of occasions, but I don’t know what or who is meant by the expression. Is he somewhat religious? What kind of god does he believe in? None of this is ever touched upon. And how does he feel about his “rebound relationship” with Adeline? Is he going to introduce her to his kids and his mother, or is he going to compartmentalize his life, moving forward? These sorts of questions create gaps to our understanding and reading experience, to where it doesn’t feel like we’re in a complete word but a tiny, philosophical room…which is comfortable and sufficient for its purposes, but not “real.”
Overall Response: Thirteen out of Twenty, or 3.25 overall. For those who enjoy philosophy with a touch of fiction, this is definitely a book worth reading. It makes you think about your own life and what you feel your purpose is, and it contains some positive answers as to what we’re doing and how we should conduct ourselves while we are here. But, as a novel and not just philosophy, it has some weaknesses.
The book is due out towards the end of November, 2016.
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Copyright 2016 Andrea Lundgren
Photo used by permission from the author