ELEVEN by Mark Watson - JJ Landis
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ELEVEN by Mark Watson

I read Eleven simply because Jon, a fellow librarian, pulled it off the new book shelf and said it was a good read. I didn’t ask him what was good about it, but took his recommendation. This is odd, because I don’t always like what he likes. But for some reason, I keep reading his suggestions…

The premise is interesting and I liked right away what I read on the back about the author. He’s a comedian. And one of his other books is called A Light-Hearted Look at Murder – what a great title!

Eleven is about Xavier Ireland, a late-night radio talk show host, who has run away from his old life. He gives advice to the listeners of his call-in advice show, but yet deliberately avoids interfering in the lives of the people around him. Though written by a comedian, the story is not funny. Xavier is a lonely man who tries to avoid dealing with a very tough situation from a few years back (which is why he ran). A romantic interest comes along and calls him out on his selfishness, his inability to get involved with others. As is the case in many books and movies (and life?), the romantic attraction is the impetus for change.

My book club friends often tell of books making them cry. I don’t remember a book causing tears. This one came very close. When I read, mid-book, exactly what Xavier did that was so awful he felt it necessary to move to a different country and change his name I gasped out loud and then went several hours through the night with no sleep. Shudder. And another part of the story which hit very close to home drew my emotions a bit too close to the edge for my liking.

A blurb on the cover states: “One Moment Eleven Lives Endless Consequences.” One action (or inaction) by Xavier trickled down into drastic effects for others. A good reminder that our actions affect others (a scary thought or an empowering one? Depends upon your perspective, I suppose).

The ending was not what I thought was coming, but it was appropriate and interesting. The story is poignant, for sure. The writing is what I like – to the point, easy to follow, and not too poetic or contrived.

I rate it five stars.

JJ

My rating system:

1 star – Yawn or horrible writing

2 stars – Ick but slightly higher than horrible and boring

3 stars – Respect the author but it’s just not my thing

4 stars – Like the book but didn’t obsess about it

5 stars – Thought about the book day and night during the time I read it, hated for it to end, told anyone who would listen about the book I was reading

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