The Mortifications by Derek Palacio pulls you in on a very strange journey. From the start, this book feels more like a story told than a story shown.The book focuses on one family and their time away from and in Cuba. Through the whole of it, I didn’t feel quite inside the book as I usually it. It felt more like I was floating along with the story, then ever getting sucked into the drama of it (and oh boy is there a lot of drama in this book).
The writing style is jarring. (Spoiler: There are no quotes for speech in this book, ever.) After I got used to the writing style, it seemed to fit with the story. It makes the book feel more ephemeral, less like documentation and more like a memory. I’m still not sure if I’m sold on it though. Every time I came back to this book after a break, my first thought would be confusion as to why the author chose not to follow the “show, don’t tell” rule. Perhaps because if the story had been shown, it would have been much longer?
From the title to the last page, this book is religious, but it also feels blasphemous. It’s about desire, a destruction of desire, and a lack of satisfaction either way. Although I can’t say it was every painful to read, the story is a sad one. When I think about the story separate from the book, I feel as though it should have been a more emotional read for me. It just didn’t stir my heart as much as a tale like this should have. I’m not sure why it didn’t though, and I think for that reason this isn’t really a book I would recommend to a friend.
Overall, it feels lonely and hollowed out. Maybe that’s what Mr. Palacio wanted? I’ll never know.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.