BOOK CLUB: A Thousand Tiny Truths

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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.

A Thousand Tiny Truths

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
ISBN: 978-174-261-1525
RRP: $27.99

Our Book Club Members have been reading A Thousand Tiny Truths, find out what they thought below…

7 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: A Thousand Tiny Truths

  1. “A Thousand Tiny Truths” is a really interesting book that manages to be both quite conventional and ordinary and also a bit off beat and unexpected. This is largely down to the characters, very interesting people who manage to make a right mess of their lives in ways rather more dramatic than most of us manage. But when it was all untangled and you looked at it, it was essentially pretty ordinary problems. Marriages which didn’t really work. People who didn’t know how to express their feelings. People who think they know best for others. People who are dissatisfied with their lives but don’t quite know why.

    Largely, this book happens inside Marcel’s head – his thoughts, his memories, and his analysis of his feelings and the behaviour and feelings of others. Marcel isn’t the most sympathetic character in some ways. He’s not very open, and he becomes quite closed off when his early expressions of love are rejected. He’s a bit of an outsider. I found it interesting that he didn’t have a clear cultural identity – his appearance told him clearly that he wasn’t entirely caucasian, but until fairly late in the novel neither he or we know his real parentage. This left him feeling an outsider but literally with nowhere to belong, nothing to be proud of. It was an interesting take on difference and certainly contributed to the emotional isolation of the older Marcel.

    Plot wise it was interesting that often Maclear would introduce a statement which might lead you to make a particular assumption, and then within paragraphs let you know that it isn’t going to turn out that way. For instance, at one point I surmised that Oliver was going to abandon Marcel, and within three paragraphs it became clear that that wasn’t going to happen in the novel. This left you not quite sure how things were going to turn out, and kept the novel very interesting without a lot of contrived suspense. This was a fairly low key novel and it would not have worked (or would have been a very different novel) had Maclear tried to include too much suspense.

    It was also interesting that the novel focuses almost entirely on Marcel’s first 25 years or so of life – and then it essentially jumps to the Marcel in his 50s who we first meet. To focus so clearly on the formative years, and then suggest Marcel was treading water after that, puts an entirely different perspective on things when you reach that point of realisation.

    I suppose my only disappointment about this book was that I’d expected a bit more about Vietnam’s path to independence; what there was really focused on the war, and since Marcel was a child at the time there was very little perspective. I have to say though, that this isn’t so much a fault in the book as in the expectations I formed when reading the blurb.

    Overall I really enjoyed this book. It’s probably not one I would have picked up in a bookshop, necessarily, which is a shame. Maclear has some interesting and genuine things to say about people and how they’re formed by their early experiences. I didn’t find this strongly emotionally moving, but I did find it thought provoking and and enjoyable read.

  2. “A Thousand Tiny Truths” I loved this book thr characters they sort of interedting and different to the normal one’s . But over all i really enjoyed it getting to no marcel very interesting i felt i was there actually in the story i thougthlly enjoyed a great read

  3. This is not the usual book genre I would usually pick. The blurb on the back cover did not really suck me in but once I started reading the story I was hooked. It was very hard to put down as I was really concerned for Marcel and just wanted to find out what would happen to him next.

    The book has a good storyline line that flows well even though the story is split between the past and the present. His life is very interesting and complicated. It left me feeling very sad at times as his childhood is not perfect and at times he is treated very cruelly.

    If you like books about complicated lives than this one to read.

  4. I found this book really interesting, and having grown up in theUK during the sixties I found it very true to those times. The story is very sensiive and interestingly written. The Vietnam War themes are particurlarly poignant. On the whole this is a sensitive and well written book…and just a little bit different.

  5. The author has written her story in a beautifully observant, down to earth manner and has used many, many, beautiful phrases and words throughout her tale, which shows her appreciation of, and ability to use, our language in a skilful way. Far from detracting from the story, these merely add to the warmth and humanity of both the story and the characters within.

    The characters, though all very different, are believable in their own ways: their tribulations, anguishes and triumphs are realistic. Their down-to-earthedness in far from normal situations shines through. Finally, they manage to expose to and in each other, the 1000 Tiny Truths, the 1000 Tiny Lies, the 1000 Tiny Hurts that we all experience (and inflict on others) in our own lives, no matter what our individual stories are. They show us that humanity is the common denominator that we all share, whether we like it or not, whether we realise it now, in the future, or not at all.

    A book well worth reading, which readers (myself included) would keep and read again at a later time. A book which would affect us all in a different manner each time we read it, depending on where our lives were at the time…

  6. This is not normally the kind of book that I’d pick up to read, but I loved delving into something totally different for a bit of a change as this book really opened my mind to a much bigger picture!

    A very interesting read that has taught me a lot and really made me think. I thought it was written in a very clever way that was unexpected, and done beautifully.

    It was a little hard for me to read a story that was about such hard lives because of my own past being so hard I usually steer clear of that and stick to the happy, unrealistic happy mush to escape to but this was actually very a refreshing change that I think I needed!
    So thanks for that! I’m now interested to read Kyo’s other books to see what they’re like.

    This is a book I think I will find myself picking up again from time to time as I find each time I read the same book, I find myself knowing the story more and more and discovering new things about not only the story itself but also about myself and I think this is the type of book that will do that.

  7. The prologue of this book was the best introduction to a book that I have read in a long time.It captured my interest immediately and I could not wait to start reading. The book did not disappoint me and I liked the way it split from past to present. It was easy to pick up when the story line did change. I don’t think I would have picked this up in a store only because I was unfamiliar with the author and the cover of the book did not really attract me. Overall..fantastic read!!

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