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The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow: A Novel Paperback – February 26, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Leganski explores the flip side of silence in this deceptively quiet first novel. Born in the aftermath of a searing family tragedy, Bonaventure Arrow “didn’t make a peep when he was born.” Never speaking a word, his silence enables him to listen to what no one else can hear. He is not only hyper-aware of the sounds of the natural world, but he is also in tune with the clamorous echoes of personal heartbreak and despair. Joining forces with Creole servant Trinidad Prefontaine, young Bonaventure undertakes a quest to unlock a series of family secrets to liberate himself, his dead father, and his inconsolable mother from the emotionally and spiritually paralyzing bonds of the past. This mystical fairy tail set in a 1950s-era Louisiana rife with religion, superstition, and tradition draws you in from the wondrous first page. Silence has never been so boundlessly eloquent. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

“The story keeps you enthralled as each new page seems to offer up new questions that beg answers. Leganski’s meticulous attention to the details of the plot provides answers in a revealing and entertaining fashion.” (Trevor Smith, The Winnipeg Free Press)

“This debut novel is a tour de force. It’s a beautifully, lyrically written fantasy and it captures the languorous mystery and allure of New Orleans . . . Magical.” (Historical Novels Society)

“Rita Leganski has crafted a dreamlike 1950s Louisiana. In the middle of that world stands our mute, but not voiceless hero, Bonaventure Arrow. So endearing, so wise. His love for his family will lift and inspire you.” (Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of Wench)

“Magically evocative. . . . The prose is lyrically rhythmic . . . A fine novel about love, loss, revenge and forgiveness.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Lyrical.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Brims with love and magic. It’s a timeless and lyrical story about the difference between hearing and listening, forgiving and redeeming. Bonaventure Arrow, an imaginative and special young boy, will claim your heart from the very first moment you meet him.” (Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters)

“An imaginative and touching story of the surprising ways that we heal. Rita Leganski has created a gem in Bonaventure, a young boy who cannot speak but whose silence rings with truth and humanity. If I could hear a fraction of what he does, my heart would explode with joy.” (Todd Johnson, author of The Sweet By and By)

“This mystical fairy tale set in a 1950s-era Louisiana rife with religion, superstition, and tradition draws you in from the wondrous first page. Silence has never been so boundlessly eloquent.” (Booklist)

“I happily ignored my real life commitments for the magical, mysterious world of this novel about secrets, forgiveness, and healing of all kinds and my ‘real life’ has been better for it ever since.” (Katrina Kittle, author of The Kindness of Strangers and The Blessings of the Animals)

“Suffused with the mystical charm of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou, Leganski’s lyrical debut novel conjures dreams of voodoo, the power of healing, and the distinction between hearing and listening. This extraordinary, evocative novel will cast a spell over fans of magical realism.” (Library Journal (starred review))
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Original edition (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062113763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062113764
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rita Leganski grew up in northern Wisconsin, and believes it was the long and magical winters of her childhood that cultivated her imagination and love of books, especially Southern literature. She holds a BA in Literary Studies and Creative Writing from DePaul University's School for New Learning, where she won the Arthur Weinberg Memorial Prize, as well as a Masters in Writing and Publishing from DePaul. She currently teaches writing courses at The School for New Learning. She and her husband, Paul, live in the Chicago area with a Siamese cat named Tiramisu and an orange Tabby named Jeebz.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Brazier VINE VOICE on December 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
They say, "Silence is golden." That adage applies to this story. Bonaventure cannot speak, but he `speaks' volumes.

Bonaventure's speech was taken from him when his family suffered a tragedy as he floated in his mother's uterus, growing and waiting to be born. However, he was given other gifts to compensate for this loss. Bonaventure hears colors, and inanimate objects tell him their stories. His life is far from ordinary. Together with Trinidad, a Creole servant, they liberate his suffering family from sadness, anger, and guilt, allowing them to go on with their lives.

Written almost as a fable, this book is gentle and kind, tender and soft-spoken, but what it says is huge! Ms Leganski writes well, and few could have written this book in this wonderful manner. It is a special and unusual book with well developed, albeit extraordinary and exaggerated characters. The subject matter is somewhat bizarre, but it is written in a way that allows the reader to accept what it has to say, while treasuring the way in which it is done. Congratulations, Ms Leganski on this first book, a well- crafted story that needs to be told.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Neal Reynolds VINE VOICE on February 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This author certainly has made a great start with this novel about the curiously named title character. The basic story is delightfully fanciful, telling us about a boy who has fantastically enhanced hearing ability but lacks the power of speech. We're introduced to him in the first chapter while he's still in his mother's womb. The author does a great job of personalizing each of several characters including their backgrounds fully acquainting us with the parents, grandparents,teachers, neighbors, and two mysterious characters called The Wayfarer and the woman healer, Trinidad.

This is a fabulous read. I started it last night and finished reading it this afternoon...it's the sort of book you don't want to put down.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Marks TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"There were those who ate from homely tin dishes all bumpy with dents, and those who took their meals off of bone china plates .... Bayou Cymbaline is probably best described as a municipal jambalaya - a slow-simmered stew with a hot, tangy flavor from the blending of mixed bloods and Caribbean spice." So wrote Rita Leganski in her evocatively textured novel of strangely gifted, mute child in 1950's southern Louisiana.

Bonaventure Arrow was only seven months in the womb when his father William was murdered by an unknown assailant. The death of her beloved husband nearly shattered young, pregnant Dancy, who as a result "was like a sieve; the only things she could hold were the boiled-down husks of cooked-away happiness, leftovers from a life that had drained through the wires."

What gave her the will to live was the son she soon birthed - a highly sensitive child who could not speak, but who communicated - unknown to her - with the guardian spirit of his father. Young Bonaventure heard the objects around him tell stories of where they had been, and was attuned to the minute subtleties of nature: "Within a year, Bonaventure Arrow could hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops."

For Bonaventure, sight and hearing were completely intertwined: "The red crayon sounded like the trombone in the brass band .... it started out loud and then slid around your ears. The black crayon made a sound like a pancake dropped off a spatula.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book tells the story of Bonaventure Arrow, an eight year old boy who is mute yet has hypersensitive hearing. That is just the beginning of the story. Bonaventure lives with his mother Darcy and paternal grandmother Letice in a home that is filled with an underlying feeling of sadness. While in his mother's womb Bonaventure's father William was shot to death by an intruder.
Bonaventure's inability to speak might appear to be quiet and devoid of color and life, but his acute sense of hearing leads to conversations with the dead namely the dearly departed William. Bonaventure picks up on the feelings and thoughts of others. He also sees inanimate objects taking on lives of their own.
When Trinidad Fontaine comes to the home as the family cook, Bonaventure realizes that his skills and the mystical talents of Trinidad compliment one another and can be combined to help both his mother and grandmother from the grief they've been harboring. What results is an often mystical/supernatural resolution to the things that have haunted the home's residents.
I liked this book a lot. It was well written but the author tended to overwork the conversations and thoughts that circulated in Bonaventure's mind. I found myself losing focus when this happened.
Generally speaking, if these conversations hadn't at times gotten out of hand, this would have been a 5* review.
Still, this is a good book with slight overtones of the South of Faulkner, Willams, and McCullers and a lot of fantasy and mysticism thrown in.
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