A Thousand Tiny Truths is the second novel written by Kyo Maclear, and with a foreign correspondent as a father and an artistic mother you would have to assume that their careers brought some inspiration and realism to this story.
Taking the lead is Marcel, and A Thousand Tiny Truths flickers between two stages in his life – the present day where he is nearing his fiftieth birthday, and most importantly – his childhood. Before starting I wondered if I would be able to connect to this character, in addition to him being a young male for the most part, he is also the son of a white woman and a dark male of unknown origin, making him subject to racism in the 1960s.
From the beginning, Marcel always seemed older than his years – but being brought up in an unfriendly world in the middle of the Vietnam war, with racism and a sometimes unstable family life would be sure to make you grow up fast. It isn’t that Marcel isn’t loved, he lives unconventionally with a man named Oliver who was in love with his mother before she left their lives.
As Oliver chases his dream of being a foreign correspondent and begins to travel, Marcel’s life is turned upside down as he is left with a friend of theirs, Pippa. With Oliver gone for long stints at a time, you begin to wonder if there is a hidden arrangement between Oliver and Pippa – is there a reason why he trusts this eclectic and unusual woman so freely with his “son?”
The first half of the book is set in London, where Marcel never really fits in but gains a lifelong friendship with a young girl named Kiyomi. In the present day he is asked to look after Kiyomi’s daughter and this is where it seems he finally begins to find peace.
For the latter part of the book Marcel joins Oliver in Vietnam, and even in the midst of war it seems he stands out much less than he would at home. Marcel is an artist and his drawing plays a big part in the story, and is an outlet for him.
Somehow, the young “Mish” crept into my heart, and even though the adults around him were far from perfect, his family unconventional – he always had someone watching over him and he survived his upbringing.
Honestly, I was expecting a big, explosive finale to the story – but when I found myself on the last page I had to accept the subtlety and come to my own conclusion.
A beautiful, yet emotional story that shows another side to a tragic time in our history. I normally wouldn’t have chosen this based on the description, but I read this book on a recommendation and I’m very glad I did.
Author: Kyo Maclear
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