Trauma. How does a reader remain engaged in reading a novel of almost five hundred pages describing suffering and sadness? I think one has to care about the characters and find the writing to be fine enough to overpower the heartbreak of the plot. In The Surrendered, Chang-rae Lee never lets up on the pain and trauma experienced by the characters, and his vivid descriptions can be difficult to read without wincing. Lee brings the reader forward and backward in time often, every opportunity used to better understand who these people are, how they have been formed by both trauma and love. As the novel progresses, I found that I began to care more about these characters, and to some degree felt their pain as they struggle with relationships that never seem to lead to redemption. Any reader willing to endure grim settings to experience good writing is likely to appreciate this novel. Those readers looking for happy endings and better days ahead should look elsewhere.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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