Completion Date: May, 2014
Length: 464 Pages
Russia, 1986. On a run-down apartment block in Moscow, a nine-year-old prodigy plays his piano silently for fear of disturbing the neighbors. In a factory on the outskirts of the city, his aunt makes car parts, hiding her dissident past. In a nearby hospital, a surgeon immerses himself in his work, avoiding his failed marriage.
And in a village in Belarus, a teenage boy wakes to a sky of the deepest crimson. Outside, the ears of his neighbor's cattle are dripping blood. Ten miles away, at the Chernobyl Power Plant, something unimaginable has happened.Now their lives will change forever.
An end-of-empire novel charting the collapse of the Soviet Union, All That Is Solid Melts into Air is a gripping and epic love story by a major new talent.This book was outside my general reading in many ways... First, I don't typical read books that place so recently as 1986. My interests tend to be older history. But, I am interested in the Soviet Union and realized I had never really read a novel that takes place during that period in history. I remember kids coming to Canada for the summer from places in what used to be the Soviet Union because of the radiation from the Chernobyl Power Plant explosion. I have to admit it was not something I had thought of in a while, but it gave me even more interest in reading this book that sheds some light on that terrible time.
A mark of a good book, for me, is one that makes you want to read more about a certain subject. I think it is timely that Russia is in the news so heavily right now. While they have changed a lot since the country they were in 1986, there are still similarities that make you appreciate the fact you can read about it from a distance. And, McKeon puts a human face on the tragedy. I wish I paid more attention to the outside world and had read more on the Chernobyl disaster before now. There is just always so much happening in the world that you can't focus on everything like you would hope to. So, you read a novel about it instead and then feel guilty because you can't read everything. I think a lot of that relates to how events like WWI and WWII get so much exposure even now, but events like this sort of vanish into the background.
I read more young adult fiction that I used to, but I have to admit that I am not usually a big fan of adult fiction told from the point of view of teenagers. There are sometimes, though, that I think it makes a book even more human. I think there is a different level of sympathy for young people and animals than older people who have all ready lived a large part of their lives. I personally liked that there was a range of characters in this book, though. It worked better for me. I would sometimes have to slow down my reading to keep everything straight, but it all worked out in the end.
One thing I am finding this year with TLC Book Tours is that I am reading a lot of strong, well-written debut novels. I sometimes worry that I won't like them or they will try too hard and it will fall flat. It seems that 2014 is a good year for debuts, though. With a title like All That is Solid Melts into Air, I was worried this would be too literary for me, but I wound up just being impressed with the writing overall. McKeon is a fabulous writer and I hope that his next book is equally as well-written. He is definitely someone to watch!