Book Review – Cycling to Asylum by Su J. Sokol

I have just spent a few months finishing up reading Cycling to Asylum by Su J. Sokol, and today I finally finished it. I have to say, the title seemed to provoke more interest and intrigue than the content provided. I enjoyed the character of Laek, a free-thinking teacher from New York in what could conceivably be called a near-future dystopian period, but I absolutely disliked his wife and his two children, basically because Sokol stops at crucial junctions in the story to do a chapter on every single person in the family and their point of view on the same event, which could have been consolidated instead of making the reader read laboriously through the same event four times. If each character was to have his or her own chapter, I would have preferred for that chapter to carry the story a little further, but in this book that just simply didn’t happen. The parents moved much of the story along, the sister a little bit, and the youngest child’s chapters were all completely unnecessary.

That said, I do enjoy a certain sense of national pride when I read this book – that Canada is where people go to find hope and a new life (this publishing house publishes several Canadian-based works, so I expected nothing less from them). They leave New York to get away from violence and terrorist groups to find a new life and hope in Montreal. I enjoyed Sokol’s accurate use of the intermix of English and French that characterizes much Canadian speech, especially in Quebec, and I thought the mood of a Canadian city in winter was captured best of all. Also, I enjoyed the sexual/relational freedom Laek and his wife Janie enjoy in their marriage, as their relationship with Philip seems to represent a bridge between the bad parts of the U.S. they are leaving behind and the good memories they made there.

All in all, I give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars, for an interesting storyline, but no more than 3, for taking too long to reach a climax and the staunch formulaic nature of the manuscript.

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About SharaLee Reads

I love to read and I love to talk about what I read. Here I will share my insights on books people send me to read, on old classics, on graphic novels, on pretty much anything involving the written word. If you love books and you love to talk about them, this is the place for you! Bibliophiles are welcome and others are welcome to learn. Welcome to my literary world! (Now go read a book for a while). View all posts by SharaLee Reads

One response to “Book Review – Cycling to Asylum by Su J. Sokol

  • paulydeathwish

    That’s interesting about each character having their own chapter concerning the same time period. Reminds me of Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon.

    As English Wikipedia says, “The film is known for a plot device that involves various characters providing alternative, self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident.”

    Anyway, nice review 🙂

    –Paul

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