337, by M. Jonathan. Lee
Hi guys, how have you all been keeping lately?
The lockdown is officially over here in England, something I’m feeling very thankful for.
This got me wondering: is there anything in particular you’re feeling thankful for right now?
Aside from feeling thankful for the end of lockdown, I’m also thankful for 337, one of my most recent reads. As a tale of abandonment, loss, and most of all, family, this contemporary page turner made for a pleasant and deeply emotional read.
Please Note: The print copy I received in the mail featured a quirky double-ended, upside-down opening. If you’d also like the same feature when considering reading 337, please note that this opening style is only available in hard copy, from UK booksellers.
When Samuel Darte’s mother walked out on their family, he never forgot. Reports were filed, listing her as missing and Samuel always wondered what really happened to her. Now, years later, he seeks to know the truth. As his grandma lays dying, Samuel hopes to finally piece some answers together.
There were only a few key players in this story, although we mainly just see Samuel’s character. Samuel is the eldest son, the responsible type, always picking up the slack for his father and younger brother, Thomas. He was a likable and deeply introspective person, qualities which helped to draw me closer to him emotionally.
His brother Thomas, by contrast, is far less responsible. He gave off the impression of a distant, conflicted loner, whose sweet nature had become marred by repeated drug use. The relationship between the two brothers was strained at first as they began to reconnect, however, it shifted toward the end of the story, restoring them to their former loving bond.
Samuel’s grandma is seen throughout the novel: a no nonsense yet now frail woman. Seeing how their relationship changed, after years of distance and past hurt, in such a short time was beautiful. It emphasized the importance of caring for one’s family members, no matter what past issues have existed between you, as you don’t know how long you’ve got left with them.
By contrast to all other characters, Samuel’s father was, quite frankly, an arse. He seemed a stern, selfish man, always thinking about his own wants and needs. Because of this, he was by far my least favourite character.
337 was a slow paced novel. It allowed me time to really think about what the author was trying to show me, settling me into the moment with Samuel’s character. Because of this, his thoughts and feelings felt more impactful, wrapping around me like a blanket of experiences, showing me how he came to be the man he is.
I liked how the family relationships were explored. There was plenty of natural conflict there, hinting at a complicated family dynamic right from the start.
On the other hand, there were a few things I disliked about 337.
Toward the end of the book, for example, are random chapter headings but no content. I’m not sure if this was intended as another quirky feature or not, but to me it felt a bit frustrating to have it there.
Secondly, while I really enjoyed the slower style of pacing and the emotional connectivity of 337, nothing of note really seemed to happen. I was half expecting some big twist surrounding the disappearance of Samuel’s mother, since that’s what the start of the plot seemed to suggest. I kept waiting for some big reveal, only to reach the end, feeling a little bit cheated.
However, the plot did have its own unique charm regarding its exploration of the past and the relationships which shape people. With that in mind, these issues I had didn’t take too much away from my reading experience.
There were some interesting quotes dotted throughout 337, of which these following two were my favourites.
- ‘When you experience some kind of serious trauma at a young age, it stays with you. It’s like a ghost which follows a few feet behind- a quiet whispered sound that reminds you of your past.’
- ‘It has always confused me, why people who have not got the slightest clue of what somebody is experiencing still believe it is their right to state their opinion on the subject. -They can tell us what bad people we are – from their twisted viewpoint, they have clambered a few rungs up the slippery ladder of moral hierarchy.’
Overall, 337 was a leisurely read, with a strong emotional impact and interesting relationship exploration. I personally felt that the plot lacked something, however would still recommend it to lovers of contemporary reads, with themes of abandonment, loss, bereavement and family.
My Rating: 4 stars.
Recommended: To those looking for an emotive, thoughtful read, which is not heavy on action.
To learn more about 337, visit its Goodreads page HERE
Or, to learn more about M. Jonathan. Lee, visit his website HERE.
Reminder: If you’d like a copy of the book with the quirky double-ended, upside-down opening, please note that this opening style is only available in hard copy, from UK booksellers.
As always, thank you for joining me for today’s review.
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Here’s wishing you a wonderful week,