To sum this book up in a word, bittersweet. That would hit the metaphorical nail on the head exactly. Lionel Shriver, award-winning author best known for her weird masterpiece that is We Need To Talk About Kevin, has this time, written something totally different, so far removed from her other works that you actually stop and question whether these two novels were dreamt up from the same mind. Poles apart, and yet her striking writing style is evident throughout both.
The Post-Birthday world focuses on protagonist Irina, and her struggle to decide on a concrete path in which to develop her life. The narrative splits almost immediately after the introduction, into two parallel plot lines, in which Irina proceeds to make decisions that will shape, not only her future, but those individuals closest to her. A crusade of morals, life choices and loyalties, The Post-Birthday World tugged at my heart strings and made me question the very foundations between right and wrong. Skewed ideals are at the forefront of this novel, and while at first, my emotions were drained by the protagonist, the ride through the pages is nothing if not tumultuous.
A brilliantly-written novel, one I've taken my time to read, like savouring a fabulous meal, if only to feel too full afterwards. Shriver writes with such conviction that once or twice, I even shed a tear for the most pompous or infuriating characters. My sympathies were all over the place, constantly switching between head and heart like Irina does. Her dual-journey is full of emotion, heartache and excitement, and not one I took lightly. I struggled to read certain parts of this book, out of sheer denial at what I was reading. Just when you think you've cracked Shriver's secret, you're spun in an entirely different direction, left with nothing but an expression of disbelief.
You'd do well to read this book.