The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
by Rita Leganski
published by Harper Books
A magical debut novel from Rita Leganski, The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is the tale of a mute boy whose gift of wondrous hearing reveals family secrets and forgotten voodoo lore, and exposes a murder that threatens the souls of those who love him.
Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. But he was listening, placing sound inside quiet and gaining his bearings. By the time he turns five, he can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He also hears the voice of his dead father, William Arrow, mysteriously murdered by a man known only as the Wanderer.
Exploring family relics, he opens doors to the past and finds the key to a web of secrets that both hold his family together, and threaten to tear them apart.
Set against the backdrop of 1950s New Orleans, The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow is a magical story about the lost art of listening and a wondrous little boy who brings healing to the souls of all who love him.
(from She Reads)
I read this book as part of the She Reads book club. I was excited to read a book I hadn’t picked myself, but also a little nervous- the story seemed a little different. I was floored by Rita Leganski’s debut novel. From the very first page, I couldn’t put the book down.Newly born Bonaventure arrow is doesn’t make a sound, even though he is frightened by the sudden change in his environment. Instead, he listens. He hears strange and different sounds, and then the heartbeat of his mother. So begins the extraordinary life of Bonaventure, who doesn’t speak, but can hear everything, including his dead father, who speaks to him, and guides him along his life. Bonaventure hears EVERYTHING- grass growing, clouds, sunshine. He can also hear secrets. Along with his father, and healer Trinidad Prefontaine, Bonaventure helps his family heal from old hurts and secrets.
The backdrop of magical New Orleans, along with voodoo and the mystical, really pulled me in. I love stories of New Orleans and the surrounding area. Rita Leganski did an wonderful job, not only of describing the place, but also the fell of this wonderful city. The author also has an amazing way of describing the things Bonaventure hears-
“Within a year, Bonaventure Arrow could hear the flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops.”
I am usually a fast reader, but found myself deliberately going slow with this book, to appreciate the wonderful way with words the author had. Bonaventure isn’t the only one described so well. His Grandmother Roman, a hypocrite with only her own well being in mind, is a source of tension throughout the story. “Adelaide Roman was certain of her soul’s perfection, and so felt comfortable pointing out the iniquities committed by others. To that end, she brought religion with her wherever she went, including her job at the United Staes Post Office.”
Altogether, this is a wonderful story about hope, magic, love, and forgiveness. This would make a great selection for a book club. You can read more reviews of this book at-
5 out of 5
(can I do 5 1/2???)