Title: Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home
Author: Anthony Caplan
Published: June 2012
Publisher: Hope Mountain Press
My Source: Author (thank you!)
My Score on Goodreads: 3 stars
A coming of age novel about a boy overcoming divorce and cultural dislocation. When Father and Mother, a highflying young American lawyer and his party-hard bride, fall prey to the self-destructive lure of alcohol and sexual liberation, Will and his sisters pay the price in divorce and kidnappings that take them back and forth between the rain forest hideaways of coastal Latin America and the placid suburbs of Long Island. Will identifies with the oppressed workers laboring in his father's fast food restaurant and longs for American freedom. Father remarries the daughter of a local aristocrat, and Will is sent off to the hothouse world of a New England boarding school. Swimming in a sea of Fair Isle sweaters and LL Bean boots, Will discovers a core of resilience in himself that allows him to survive, thrive, and ultimately embrace the flawed and varied worlds he inhabits. Will reconnects with Mother, sinking into a New York City world of Irish bars and one night stands he cannot save her from. With a little help from friends, and a high school Shakespeare class taught by the school's closeted gay athletic trainer, Will begins to see the possibility of finding his true path. Latitudes charts the birth pangs of a quest for self and soul - from a tropical childhood to a coming of age on the road.
Wow... difficult book to review. I liked it, I really did, but I also found it somewhat strange. "Latitudes - A Story of Coming Home" tells us the story of Will Kogan and his road to adulthood. I think we can see this book as a kind of Bildungsroman because we see the long road Will travels from a child with little knowledge of the world to a teenager who wishes he never had to learn the world as good as he did. It's a difficult road with many obstacles and Will has to take them all. He can't ignore them and go around them... he can't and he doesn't want to.
I liked the story because I could connect with Will. I understood him (not always, but most of the times I did) and had the same feelings as he did. I also appreciated the writing style of author Anthony Caplan. At the start I thought it was incoherent in a way but the more I read of the book, the more I understood this incoherent writing reflected the incoherent life Will knew when he was growing up. In the beginning of the book I didn't always understand the situations, but that's the idea (I believe) because Will also didn't understand most of the situations in his life. He didn't understand why his father hit his mother, why they divorced in an ugly way, why he and his sisters didn't get the love of a normal family,... In the beginning we only seem to get some tatters like they are the only thing Will remembers from being an innocent child.
Later on we get longer memories and more coherent ones... They reflect the growth of Will emotionally.
One thing I had difficulties with, is the fact the beginning of the book doesn't seem to have much connections with the rest of it. There are connections, but to me they didn't matter. Don't know what to think of it... The story also doesn't seem to lead somewhere. Ok, in the end we see a different Will (and that's the point of a Bildungsroman) but still... It's a totally uncompleted story and that's just not my thing ;)
All in all I can say: good book, but maybe not really my genre after all.