And here we have a full Cannonball, completed at the last possible moment! That’s fine though, because I’m at least finishing up with an excellent book. Everyone Brave is Forgiven is the interwoven tale of three interesting and intrepid characters, set in World War II London. From their very first introductions, till the bitter end of the story, I was so involved with them that I genuinely worried for them, given the fact that they were, you know, in an active war zone and all.
The best thing, by far, about this book, is the quality of the writing. Cleave manages to write the most brilliant of dialogue, with characters with far sharper wits than I; totally appropriate, yet unique metaphors & groupings of words that make you say “yes! This!” in your head a lot (Example: She felt five years old, and five hundred. Here was the remainder of ten thousand educations, the bones drifted down to this depth. It was the fossil of one’s country. She ached, because the war had cut the thin cord that bound each child to its ancestors with links made from cross-stitch and calligraphy. She walked up into the corridor, trembling. The school was absolutely silent. How violent it was, this peace where children’s voices should be. The ache in her chest hardened to anger, until she shook with it.) ; and just has a smoothness and ease of words that I admire and appreciate. One warning though: the language – period appropriate, racist, ableist ball of puke that it is- does take some getting used to, but there’s nothing to be done about that; there’s a reason these words hurt now, and it’s because of how they were used then. The idea that you could write a novel set in the then without them is absurd, even if it’s cringe-producing to read it now. I actually find it heartening to know how jarring, harsh, and out of place words like ‘retard’ and ‘mongrel’ are to me, especially as applied to young children. The fact that they were little barbs placed among the rest of the text is a good thing, in my book.