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Book Review: A Ladder to the Sky

Updated: Jul 24, 2022

What a great read! Following the deadly machinations of aspiring but ultimately unimaginative writer Maurice Swift, Boyne's book shows us Maurice first through the eyes of those he uses and discards along his way to literary greatness. We meet Maurice as a young man when he is hired by revered author Erich Ackermann, who hides a dark secret. Everyone has secrets, Maurice reminds us throughout the book, and those secrets are where the stories are. After getting what he needs from Ackermann to launch his literary career, and destroying Ackermann's in the process, he moves on to other victims, including a talented writer whom he marries, much to her detriment.

As Maurice leaves behind him a wake of tragedy and deception on his way to becoming a prominent novelist, he is consistently pursued by the one truth that he isn't able to shake: He's not a good novelist.

But he is a good liar.

The reader is starving for resolution, and a final comeuppance, when we finally hear from Maurice himself in the last third of the book. With a pathological disregard for the destruction he's inflicted on almost everyone he's encountered in his life, he makes one last attempt at gathering other people's stories for his next novel. He doesn't expect what comes next, and neither does the reader thanks to Boyne's masterful storytelling.

I couldn't put this book down, and I don't say that about many books. Definitely recommend!

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