Such a wonderful book – thought-provoking, poignant and utterly compelling, Mitchell’s opus re-enters the life of asocial, intelligent Luke, in five-year instalments. Whilst initially showing signs of a presence on the disorder spectrum, as the book proceeds through his life, you find yourself starting to wonder if Luke is really all that unusual, or is it modern life, in all its mundane absurdity, which is the problem? Without a specific storyline, we join Luke at the age of six, and whilst even at that age averse to social interaction, it is a joy to behold him discovering the small things in which he takes pleasure, such as his mini fruit and vegetable garden. However, by the ages of 16, then 21, you do start to wonder, nervously, just which direction this book is going in – it could just as readily go in either direction, equally: toward future happiness or bleak unpleasantness. There are points at which you can see Luke’s chances for happiness, and are wondering if he, with this apathetic and negative approach, will take them. I won’t give too much away, but I will say that whichever life scenario Luke currently found himself in, I did find myself utterly rooting for him, and so wanting a happy ending for the boy and man, right up until the very last pages, even as the anticipation of a feel-good direction for this book was fading.
Beautifully written at every stage, Luke’s simplistic outlook to life really does emphasize the importance most of us place on the fantasy of mundane normality – the dream. Constantly bombarded by rhetoric and instruction of how to be content and productive in the workplace; how to be successful in business; how to find happiness in religion, by those whose lives are truthfully no more fulfilling than our own, Luke is one of the more reflective ones: those of us who are just worn down by it all. This realization of his gives “Count It All Joy” a genuine underlying tinge of sadness, which is actually preferable to the sickly sweet hyperbole of the fake lives his peers are living.
In the final chapters, this book made me want to pack it all in and go travelling, as I’m sure it will most of its readers. Vivid and descriptive, Mitchell is a fantastic author, despite a fistful of typos which really are a shame. But his talent is without doubt; he paints his wonderful creative writing in broad, colourful and simple strokes - yet simultaneously complex and layered – even when the tone is at its bleakest. Looking into the pages, you can almost see and hear the national parks and the vast Rocky wilderness; the final chapters are glorious and grand.
I simply enjoyed every moment of this book, continually intending to take a break after each section, yet not doing so, so eager was I to find out where Luke would be five years later. “Count It All Joy” is a wonderfully moving and engrossing book, which I can’t recommend highly enough.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: mitchell-allen drama