When we first meet David Winkler he is boarding a plane, and returning home for the first time in twenty-five years. Back then he had been a husband, and a father working as a staff meteorologist at a TV station in Cleveland and then one day he ran away to Kingstown, St Vincent.
He ran a way because he has a special gift: sometimes his recurring dreams come true. As a child he dreamed of a man being run over by a bus, and it came true right before his eyes. Then he dreamed he would meet the woman he would love in a supermarket and just as in the dream, he met her and they fell in love. But then he began having dreams of his baby daughter dying in his arms during a flood and in an attempt to prevent that from happening he decides that he must leave, hoping that if he is not there the dream will not come true. Trying to get as far away as possible to protect those he loves from the death he had foreseen. he ends up on St. Vincents and becomes a day laborer a pale shadow of who he was before. Now at 59 years old he is returning, to find out whether his sacrifice has made a difference and hoping to reconnect with his wife and child.
His return however, does not turn out like he expected. David realizes that “[i]n our memories the stories of our lives defy chronology, resist transcription: past ambushes present and future hurries into history,” but the hard reality is that life has gone on without him. But despite that hard lesson David also finds that grace can come from the strangest places and learns an important lesson: ‘[i]n memory, in story, in the end, we can make our lives any way we need. To be surprised, truly and utterly surprised by what came into your life- this…was the true gift.”
Doerr writes luminously about the human condition; our fear of death and our inability to be in control of anything. The portions of the book where he describes the natural world are filled with detail and wonder and he describes the miracle of the snowflake with awe and reverence. David’s journey to confront his past is compelling, but I often found him to be dispassionate and even opaque despite the fact that the book was narrated from Davids’ perspective. Although at certain points the story seemed to stall, overall I enjoyed both the story and the fine writing.
Brenda’s Rating: ****(4 Stars out of 5)
Recommend this book to: Keith and Sharon
Book Study Worthy? Yes
Read in ebook format.