Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Club Pick: Life Among Giants

Life Among Giants
by Bill Roorbach
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
2012
331 pages

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A sweeping saga, an epic tale, a story replete with steamy seduction, passionate romance, boundless sorrow, and relentless yearning, Life Among Giants is Gatsby-ish in its description of an era in American history when rock stars ruled and English rockers  invaded. Skirts were short and the summer of love was possible.

David "Lizard" Hochmeyer is seventeen and a talented football star. He leads his school to gridiron victories but gets kicked off the team for not cutting his hair. Lizard is a standout and could care less what the coach thinks. Older sister Kate babysits for the neighbors--British rock legend Dabney Stryker-Stewart and his beautiful but dangerous wife Sylphide. Their son Linsey is "profoundly challenged" and Kate helps out with his care. David is enthralled with Sylphide, a famous ballerina who haunts his dreams and threatens his future. The famous family lives at High Side--the mansion across the pond from David's ordinary three bedroom family home. High Side is a proper mansion and the Stryker-Stewarts are the golden couple and darlings of the press.

Lizard goes off the college and plays football for Princeton and later signs a contract with the NFL playing for the Miami Dolphins. In all those years, he keeps tabs on the beautiful Sylphide--he cuts out news and magazine clippings for a scrapbook of all her escapades and dreams of her constantly.

The story  continues as Lizard learns to cook and returns to his boyhood home, taking up residence and watching the mansion across the pond. David and Kate question the past--the death of Dabney and the deaths/murders of their parents. The court ruled it an accident but there is their dad's missing briefcase and the FBI case against his company. Sylphide plays a part in all the drama, and Kate blames her for every death. Lizard is blinded by love and desire.

Lizard opens a restaurant with friends Etienne and Ru-Ru and they become a culinary success. The real story of Dabney's death is revealed and a plan to punish the murderers comes together. Revenge is sweet, but to get away with murder is oh-so sublime!

You won't forget Life Among Giants. It is likely to stay with you a lifetime--the larger than life characters of Lizard and Sylphide will join the ranks of literature's great lovers--Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde. Author Roorbach has created a masterpiece of mythic proportions. This is a novel that can be read again and again. It's that good. I loved Life Among Giants and it has made it to my best books of all time list along with To Kill a Mockingbird and The Shadow of the Wind.

Highly, highly recommended for mature readers grade 9-up. Language, mature situations, murder, romantic triangles.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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