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Broken Harbor, Tana French (book recommendation and review)


I've been postponing writing this review and the reason why I have been doing that is simple enough: I wanted to do this novel justice. Tana French has a way of getting her characters into your head. As a matter of fact, I feel like her characters are still in my head. I feel like the characters from Broken Harbor are people I actually knew. Funny, isn't it? However, it is not the first time that happened. Some books have that effect. Usually, they're quite fabulous books.

It's been a while since I read Broken Harbor now and yet the book stayed with me if you know what I mean. I had plenty of time to work it all in my head, to consider possible faults in this novel. Time to weight pros and cons of reading this one. Time to think about how I would go about recommending it to others. Time to think about what exactly makes it so special? I wrote my goodreads review a while back (here) and it sure was it a long one! As a matter of fact, I wrote that review only an hour after I had read Broken Harbor. In that review, I concluded that Broken Harbor was one of the best crime novels I have ever read. Do I still agree with what I wrote? Yes, I do. Absolutely. 

This was actually my first novel by Tana French, who is as I understand, quite a popular writer. Well, I was glad to learn her books are bestsellers because I do believe she deserves it. Because you know, Tana does add something new to the thriller/murder/mystery genre. Alright, I know that so far I have read only one novel- but I do think there is something unique about this author. So, let's get to the bottom of it.


This book surprised me. Was it the plot? Not really. It was good but nothing spectacular. Not that there weren't things that caught me by surprise. There was a few of them, but basically the mystery part was good but nothing unheard of. Was it the psychological portrayal of characters? No, it wasn't. I'm a fan of psychological novels and I certainly enjoyed reading about what was happening in everyone's head in this novel, but that's not it.  Psychological analysis is nothing new and has been a part of writing since the time of Freud. In fact, many crime have used it to their advantage. Take Agatha Christie for example. Was it the beauty of the writing then? I would have to say no. As I already said on goodreads: "The writing is beautiful and at times poetical, but that’s not it- I’ve read enough to know that you can find beautiful and poetical writing in any genre and I’m by no means close minded about these things. The beautiful writing is certainly always welcome, but I want to stress that it was not so much the beauty but the complexity of the writing caught me up by surprise."


This novel is complex. It all comes down to that. I used an adjective 'meditative' when describing this novel because I wanted to stress that this novel made me ponder the meaning of life. It made me question what it means to be a good person. It made me see the unbelievable grace and courage in the act of giving our best. It made me meditate on life, happiness, sadness and morality. It taught me so much. It really did. When a book teaches you something like that, then it must be a pretty good book.  As I said in my goodreads review: ".... this novel caught me off guard a few times and that’s something I quite liked. What surprised me the most was the way Tana managed to dig into all these big questions and all that while narrating a complex story line. French narrates the story with a steady pace and an effortless rhythm. This novel works well as a thriller, but as I mentioned a few times already---- what I find really interesting about it is how it manages to be more than a thriller/crime novel. Somehow, Broken Harbor also manages to be a about life, about growing up, about guilt, about the complexity of being human, about coping with loss and dealing with mental illness…and most of all- a novel about not giving up. A novel that puts forward not so much the idea that nothing happens without a reason, but an explanation why we as humans need to believe it..... There are words of wisdom in this book, and even if it doesn't try to offer any definite answers to great questions of life, it has this way of pushing you to ask them. Basically, this novel is quite unique. There is that little special something about it, something that sticks with you as you're reading it...and I have a feeling it is something that is going to stay wit me. Even without the beauty of its language and the complexity of its themes, it would have been a great crime novel/psychological thriller but with all those things thrown in the mixture--- it is really perfect. "  



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