Book Review: Open Reveries By Bruno Cooke

“An unusual novel that nevertheless captures the difficulties of growing up and the importance of family”

Richard is a victim of tempestuous bowels, Nicole of delayed tooth eruption. After bizarre childhoods, they meet and engage in a volatile relationship. It ends and they go on to lead separate lives. But unbeknownst to Richard, Nicole gives birth to twins, a boy named Crow, who runs away, and a girl named Yonita, who is a dysfunctional daydreamer. An all-consuming addiction and tantric self-pleasure means that Richard is also miles away in a world of his own. It falls to private detective Ronald, a man with questionable morals himself, to pick up the pieces.

The narrative style of this novel reminded me very much of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole as Cooke captures the difficulties of growing up for Nicole and Richard, not just in their teens, but in their child- and adulthoods. There were amusing moments throughout each of their youths, but beneath this humour were undertones of what it means to grow up and the formation of your identity as you age. This is something that everyone can recognise and relate to. Even if you don’t see any similarities between yourself and Richard and/or Nicole, you can definitely understand and sympathise with them as they navigate the turbulent path of life from toddlers to adults.

Cooke does a good job of keeping you engaged as you are reading, as there are hints throughout the chapters about Richard’s and Nicole’s relationship. Your interest is piqued and you are curious to find out more details of how their relationship unfolded, and what happened to leave them so deflated and altered as individuals, especially Richard. I really liked the final chapter when Ronald investigates the disappearance of Crow because the way it was written was a great way of getting greater depth of character of Nicole and her daughter, Yonika.

The most moving element of this book for me was how Cooke explores the concept of family. His characters highlight how important family and stability are because they have their own problems with their behaviour and identities, which stem back from the lack of secure family environment. Yonika, for instance, is clearly damaged, but through her stories, which initially appear indecipherable and illogical, there is an implication of clarity: she is the way she is because of her family circumstances, growing up without her father or knowing exactly who he is.

Overall, Reveries is an amusing novel that is pretty out there, which makes for a refreshing read. Yet, beneath the humour, there is a moving exploration of many issues that are relevant today, such as the problems we face when growing up, and the importance of family.

Rating: 4/5

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