The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle ~Goodreads~
Published by Bloomsbury 2015
Hardback edition 400 pages ~Book Depository~
I was sent this ARC for an honest review via Netgalley.
On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, seventy year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal- only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.
Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and non-applicable. Adam’s senior by some fifteen years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adams’ mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic- a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.
Hearing so much about T.C. Boyle and being aware of his reputation as an author, I was thrilled to receive this ARC but sadly perhaps down to myself hyping this book up I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Boyle’s writing is good but for some reason I couldn’t click with this book as much as I hoped which is a shame.
I found the beginning to be a great start with 70 year old Sten Stensen on a cruise ship with his wife to Central America, and it was fast-paced and full of action as the bus excursion is accosted by armed robbers to which Sten kills one of them. After being questioned by the local authorities he is allowed home and this sets the seed of knowledge regarding Sten’s inner conficts.
Returning home to find his son Adam, delusional and out of control with his mental illness that he has been battling with for years. Adam then is involved with an older woman, Sara a somewhat rebel kind of character and from this point the plot centres around Adam’s mental health and his actions.
It’s very much of an exhausting read which sits well in understanding mental health and being trapped in a troubled mind but at times its quite distressing. I think Boyle was brilliant at capturing this mood and understanding of where Adam’s mind was at, but I find it hard to follow the plot from the beginning and how it interwoven with the ending.