- File Size: 1588 KB
- Print Length: 262 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (April 9, 2019)
- Publication Date: April 9, 2019
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07CRJB8WJ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#6,875 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
- #155 in Contemporary Literary Fiction
- #128 in Romance Literary Fiction
- #194 in Coming of Age Fiction (Kindle Store)
Trust Exercise: A Novel Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 262 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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136 customer reviews
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I kept reading and reading, thinking I'd start caring about one or more of the characters. I never did. It was a waste of time. I read all the way to the end, and it got worse and worse.
However, I was so turned off by the self-conscious writing style and distant narration I quit reading on page 8. Here's the line that made me drop the book - for context, two teenagers are making out:
"He realized with a shock that it needn't be thus."
Done, but I rated this two stars because I can see how others might not mind being so distant from the characters or have writing this stilted.
On the plus side, I'm impressed that the author provided something new with this book. It's difficult to find experimental formats that work, and it's even harder to write them. I was surprised by the changes in format and didn't really see them coming. Choi's writing is crisp - she doesn't waste words - and she sets scenes up well. I had a clear picture in my mind of the school and the theater. She hits the right notes with the time setting (the early 80s) and her descriptions of the clothes the teenagers wear fit in with that time period. I'll also note that while Choi does not specifically name the large southern city in which the book was set, I'm pretty sure I know what city it is supposed to be or resemble, and the descriptions are stunningly on point.
On the negative side, I feel that to really enjoy a book like this, you have to be invested in the characters. Most of the characters are fairly unlikeable, and while it's definitely not a requirement to like a character in order to enjoy a book, a reader still needs to be invested or engaged with them in some format. I just couldn't get there with these characters. I did not like or have a lot of sympathy for Sarah, even for some of her hardships which were likely designed to elicit sympathy from the reader, and the rest of the characters weren't much better. I felt like I had to push myself through the first 200 pages of the book and it wasn't until after that point that I felt more invested - and given that the book only has a little over 250 pages, it would have been beneficial to be engaged before that point. Furthermore, even at the end, I wasn't entirely satisfied. I thought that the story would redeem itself then - and to some point it does - but I definitely still had questions after finishing reading. This might be partially the fault of the book's summary, as it states that the final piece of the puzzle falls into place and truths will be revealed, but it's also entirely possible I'm missing something.
Overall, this one will definitely get mixed reviews. I suspect some people will give up about 50 pages into it, some people will be in the middle like me, and some people will absolutely love it. I know that after it's released, I'll be looking for discussions and forums on the internet to see what others thought and if there were meanings that I missed. One final piece of advice - don't pick this one up for a time when you need a book to get through quickly. Although I read it in about two days, I wondered if reading it at a slower speed would have been more beneficial.
Trust Exercise is going to be a hard book to review without spoilers (but I shall attempt). So much of what makes it great is in the surprises you get along the way as a reader. So you’re just going to have to trust me when I tell you that this book was really, really good.
One thing to know: The prose in this book is like poetry. It’s like music. It’s breathtaking and poignant and takes you on an emotional trip. If you love to read prose like that, then this book is absolutely for you. But if that kind of musical, somewhat flowery prose isn’t your style, no big; this one might not be for you.
The book opens from the almost-constant perspective of Sarah, a 15-year-old girl who attends a local high school for performing arts students. She and David have passionate summer love affair. But when they get back to school in the fall, their own inherent differences and the constant teenage-mixed-with-competitive-acting-class drama … splinters things. Sarah doesn’t quite know what happened and yet also knows full well what happened, and that’s pretty much how she lives her life.
I wish I could tell you more, but it really would spoil it, so I’m going to stop there. But the dust jacket does a good job with this description: “A shocking spiral of events catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down.”
I will say this: The book doesn’t read as though a teenager is narrating it. I have read some reviews that say the characters are just not believable as teenagers, but I kind of think that’s the point. Who among us hasn’t looked back at our teenage selves and thought, “Wow, if I had only known then what I know now.” or “Yeah at the time, I thought X, or I thought that I knew everything about Y, but wow, I was so wrong.” That’s what this narrative does. It gives us a bird’s-eye, more adult view of what these characters are thinking, feeling, and doing. Which is a whole thing in and of itself.
Here are some words from the book’s description that might seem overused, but could not be more true about this book: “Narrative-upending.” “Truths that will resonate long after the final sentence.” “Captivating.” “Tender.” “Surprising.”