Saturday, March 2, 2013

Book Review - Aloft by Chang-rae Lee

Aloft by Chang-rae Lee is told in first person perspective by Jerry (Jerome) Battle, a man able to retire at a relatively early age, looking at the world from the perspective of being nearly 60 as he counts down the days to his next birthday.

Jerry has taken up flying, going solo for quick little jaunts in his local area, looking down at the world rather than seeing himself as really a part of it. He even used a different shade of shingles to mark an "x" on the top of his own home so he can easily find it from up in the sky. Of course, this turns out to be a metaphor for his life. Jerry is passive and often chooses to stand by and observe as his life has passed by, getting out of the family business early and handing it over to his son, paying for his father to live comfortably in a retirement community, and watching his long time girlfriend move on to another relationship. Through snippets, we learn that Jerry has a history of baggage similar to what we all face and that eventually life's circumstances will really challenge his world of no confrontations at all cost rule and he is asked to step up to the plate.

In reading this I think there are some statements about being the "sandwich" generation that I found myself identifying with, the idea that kids (although his are definitely adults with their own lives) and parents can both make demands on us as we try to balance their needs and wants with our own. I don't mean to make this a downer but the book has a lot of wit and is entertaining to read. I found myself rooting for Jerry even though I thought I would identify with this 59 year old male protagonist.

Seriously, this is an enjoyable read. Quick too!

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