4 star reads - Courtney

A ladder to the sky by John Boyne


Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own. 
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel. 
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…

I really did not know what to expect from this novel. I had seen a few friends pick it for their book of the month, so I figured I’d give it a shot and wow what a book.

Your mc Maurice is a manipulative, ambitious, arrogant man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He wants a writing career like no other and that’s exactly what he gets

The writing is this novel is amazing. You read through 3 different characters and how their lives are effected while being involved with Maurice. Two characters that stick out to me are Erik and Dash, both know they are being used and allow it to continue in some hope that Maurice will fall in love with them. Honestly, this was the saddest section of the book, because you could tell how lonely they were. They were so desperate for someone to share their lives with.

John created such a good book, but I will say there are trigger warnings for just about everything in this novel. Rape, murder, sexual abuse. He also brought up a good point throughout the book about plagiarism. Whether or not taking someone’s idea and rewriting it as your own or someone telling you there life story and you write it. Is that stealing? Have you stolen their story? That was a really good topic to bring up especially in the writing community.

I will say Maurice’s character is such a complex character. He was on a such a quest to become a famous novelist. He wanted everyone to love him and his work. He cared more about being famous and loved more than the people around him. John had me wanting to murder him throughout the whole book. What disappointed me the most was the ending and how everything came to a finish. None of it seemed like what would usually happen. Everything just kind of wrapped up in a sweet little bow.

I gave this three stars because while I loved the writing and overall story, I didn’t care for the ending, it made the book feel pointless to me. I still recommend this one and will continue to pickups John’s work. Reading from so many different POVs was incredibly unique and enjoyable to the story. You didn’t just see everything from Maurice’s perspective.

 Courtney 💛

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