Date Completed: 12/9/15
The writing style was very different from what I am used to. October 32 is written in 1st person, but it includes quite a bit of personal thought. The writing switched back and forth from dialogue, scenery and timeline, and personal interjections, thoughts, and opinions, which was a little hard to follow at times. I don’t particularly like the personal interjections, for example, “I check my watch for the time. It’s an obsession I developed after I began booking appointments on the road. Never wanna be late to an appointment.” For some reason most of these interjections feel trivial and unnecessary.
I found this book to have some underlying racist and sexist themes. The concept of tokenism (Tokenism is the policy and practice of making a perfunctory gesture towards the inclusion of members of minority groups. The effort of including a token employee to a workforce usually is intended to create the appearance of social inclusiveness and diversity (racial, religious, sexual, etc.), and so deflect accusations of social discrimination.Typical examples of tokenism are purposely hiring a black man or woman in an occupation usually dominated by white people, or hiring a woman in a profession usually dominated by men. Found on Wikipedia) is apparent in October 32. There is only one character who is a person of color, and he is described based on his race as “an elderly black fellow,” pg 26 (unlike any of the white characters – their race is not included in the book because they are “normal”). When he finds his family, they are identified as a “black woman and her daughter. It doesn’t take much to figure out who they are” pg 443. While I don’t think the author is racist, these comments leave me feeling unsettled, as a person who notices when race is called out for people of color but not for white people.
The women in this book are shamed for their sexual proclivities and seem to have very little plot other than being mothers or sexual beings. I believe this would qualify as an “attitude or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of gender roles,” the primary definition at dictionary.com. While I don’t believe this makes the author sexist, I think perhaps the roles of women in this book could have been better thought out.
I’m glad Rodness didn’t reveal Alexander’s entire background story at once or there would have been far fewer twists. As it was, this book was rather predictable. I also have to say I appreciated that several times Rodness waited to tie up all the loose ends until the book was nearly finished. He subtly drew everything together while reminding you of something that happened a couple hundred pages ago that you hadn’t thought about since you read it the first time, but that really gave this story a clean ending. The only problem is that then he introduces a bunch of new information right at the end, leaving you wondering what was real all along. The conclusion was well done, if he wanted to leave his readers unsure.