At the beginning of May, I decided to participate in the Random Reader Challenge that’s running from May 1 – June 30th. RHC has challenged readers to pick up any John Irving book, old or new and delve into the beautiful narrative that John Irving so intricately creates time and time again. I chose to read his newest piece of literature and 13th book, “In One Person“, that hit bookstores this past week.
I finished the novel on Wednesday and for the last three days, I’ve been raving about it to everyone! Since I have a book blog, it seems fitting that I use this opportunity to rave about it to all of you. Told in first person narrative, Billy is a grown man looking back on his life. When we first meet Billy, he’s struggling with “crushes on the wrong people”. Initially the story is set in fictional First Sister, Vermont, where Billy attends Favorite River Academy. His crushes range from interest in his step-father, a fellow peer/wrestler named Kittredge, his best friend Elaine and the local librarian Miss Frost.
There is also an element of theater infused into small town First Sister, Vermont. Back in the 1960’s, the Shakespearean plays that were acted out typically required men to take female roles. His Grandfather was keen to take on each role that required him to play a woman, thus causing Billy to inquire what it might be like to wear a training bra and dress like a woman. His inquires and questions were accepted by some (his best friend Elaine and Miss Frost), but causes his Mother to look at him differently, ultimately causing him to detach from her.
“In One Person” read like a diary in a lot of ways to me, because as a reader you travel with Billy on his journey of self discovery. His life from a boy to a man is explored throughout 448 pages and readers will experience a confused but endearing young boy, the epidemic of aids in the 80’s and many relationships that help build him into a better man. This is a literary page turner that will become a permanent fixture in your John Irving collection.
If you’re up for a challenge and would like the opportunity to win a signed copy of “In One Person”, sign up here for the Random Reader John Irving Challenge, hosted by Random House of Canada to win!