Book Review: Milkman by Anna Burns

My Rating: 2/5

The Blurb: In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her trouble and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous…

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction and enormous consequences.

My Review: I excitedly picked this book up from a charity store for just $2 and couldn’t wait to delve into it; having seen praise for it all over Bookstagram. Unfortunately, it did not live up to hype.

Starting out strong, with a killer opening sentence:

“The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died”

I was initially intrigued. However, less than 30 pages in I knew it was going to be a hard slog. Between the convoluted sentence structure; the peculiar absence of people and place names (except in the long list of ‘banned names’) and the sameness of words going around and around, it was an absolute struggle to read; requiring inordinate concentration.

The plot, which did have potential, was lost in the philosophical and political ramblings of the author. The barely there dialogue made it difficult to connect with the any of the characters in any significant way and the lack of names did not help in this respect.

The essential element of the protagonist’s fear was lost in the word vomit; diminishing its power. The death of the Milkman, an anticlimax. The plot twist involving ‘maybe-boyfriend’ was predictable and the ending so disappointing; changing direction as it did to be more about middle sister’s mother than about middle sister herself.

Summary: I understand this is a story based in an important historical time and place but I found it tedious. It could easily have been a much shorter and more dynamic novel. Definitely not a keeper…it can go back to the charity store from whence it came.

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