23 January 2011

Book Review Number 43: Light Boxes by Shane Jones

Rich heard about this book while listening to NPR on his drive home one afternoon.  It intrigued him, so he requested it from the library.  As soon as he was finish it, he repeated back to me what I've said to him several times.  "You've GOT to read this book.  I'm not returning it until you do."  When I finished The Book of Lies last night, Rich once again reminded me that it was there and I needed to read it.  So this morning, I did.

A small town has been in the merciless grip of February for an incredibly long time.  The book starts out with February banning flight.  Birds fall from the skies.  Balloons and kites are no longer able to soar.  It is just another nail of dreariness that exists around their town.  But a small group refuses to let this stand.  They come together, wearing bird masks, with talk of how they should get rid of February. Thaddeus Lowe becomes their leader, and the leader of the War Council that the members of the town create, after February kidnaps his daughter Bianca from her bed.  While the story is linear, it's not what one would describe as a typical story.  It far more poetic than that.  Each portion of the story is, at most, a page and a quarter long.  It flits from view point to view point, even once taking you out of the story entirely.  There are several pages that hold only one sentence or one word. It's a winding path that, for those with various depressive disorders, can understand well.

This book IS a fictional look at what SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sufferers go through in the winter months.  The sufferer can see themselves as every one of the characters presented, from Thaddeus Lowe who fights until he has lost everything, to February who states that he does not want to be as mean as he is being.  I, for one, was able to recognize a lot of my own feelings in Shane Jones' writing.

That said, this is not a book for everyone.  I suspect that it's one of those that you'll either love or hate but never feel ambivalent about.  I do recommend it for those that suffer from depressive disorders, particularly SAD, and those that love them.  The former may see themselves in the pages, while the later may understand a little more what their loved one deals with during the winter months.