You ever stumble on a book that you’ve heard nothing about, but immediately find yourself immensely attracted to? Soonchild by the late Russell Hoban was that book for me — the Patrick Ness blurb on the cover acting as a sort of siren call. Friends, this genius, slim little book evoked the same sort of feelings in me that The Alchemist and Life Of Pi did.
I feel as though Soonchild is exactly the sort of book you need to read more than once. The first time is for the plot and the art within. The second time, for me would be to better understand the underlying symbolism and what the meaning of it all is. I am the sort of reader who is not always immediately able to parse out the symbolism in what I read, and thus for me it helps to re-read.
Soonchild takes place in the cold north -where the characters are Inuits — I believe that is what they are referred to as being. Sixteen-Face John is the main character who basically wears sixteen different faces as he moves through his fears. He is a shaman, but not a good one. When his wife, No Problem is due to have her baby, called Soonchild in the womb because the baby will soon be a child, they find that she won’t come out because she hasn’t heard the world songs. Thus, Sixteen-Face John must go on a sort of spirit journey and collect the songs. Basically, the heart of the book is in the spirit journey.
Y’all, this book, Soonchild by Russell Hoban is deep and metaphorical in a way that I don’t immediately understand but want to. The art in the Advanced Reader Copy is beautifully rendered by Alexis Deacon and absolutely enhances the story in a tactile way. Soonchild probably isn’t the book for everyone, but has an audience among those who like to ponder on the themes of life, death, nature, and it’s never-ending cycle. I fully enjoyed this book and will be re-reading it upon ordering the finished copy.
Disclosure: Received for review.
Other reviews of Soonchild by Russell Hoban:
Fallen Star Stories – “A completely remarkable experience”
Littleelfman’s Bibliotherapy – “Mystical, arresting, and inspiring”