Book Review: Charlinder’s Walk by Alyson Miers
Charlinder’s Walk surprised me on a lot of levels. It’s one of those books that’s just really tough to classify. If pressed, I’d call it literary fiction with strong sociological commentary. It has dystopic elements since the story takes place over 100 years in the future after a plague has obliterated a large majority of Earth’s population. It has paranormal elements, but I’m not going to tell you when or why. It also has some steamy erotic elements–not one for the kiddies, but a totally enjoyable turn of events. Charlinder, like life, refuses to stay closed up inside the box. He brings surprises, adventures, and, yeah, a walk around the entire world.
Before you begin reading, you must understand that Charlinder is NOT a fast, plot-driven read, nor is it light. Do this book justice, take your time, and you will be left with a lot to think about. Few novels have struck me as such strong selections for book club discussion (and remember, I run a club with over 450 members, so I know a thing or two). You don’t have to search hard to find the themes or resort to conversations along the line of “who’s your favorite character?” or “what would have happened if Y instead of X?” The meaning is right there in front of you ready to be analyzed, contemplated, and enjoyed.
I’m so deeply entrenched in my publishing/ marketing/ writing career that I often forget about my academic training. I have a master’s in sociology, and I hardly ever have the opportunity to use it. Charlinder’s Walk brought my repressed educational knowledge back to the surface, reminding me why I loved sociology enough to study it for 6 years running. During Charlinder’s journey he comes across many isoloated communities of survivors–each is small, each has developed independently of the rest, and each is informed by the pre-plague culture of the region (i.e. India, China, Alaska). Charlinder confronts gender issues, division of labor, racism and segregation, varying family models, and oh-so-much more. This book would be an EXCELLENT selection for a sociology class at either the undergraduate or graduate level. The over-arching question is not, what caused the plague, but rather what caused society to develop in the way it did, and what might happen in our real world if a similar epedemic set us back several centuries?
Oh, yes, this is a novel for thinking. With smooth prose and a few heart-wrenching moments, Charlinder’s Walk makes a fantastic read if you’re willing to take the time to thoroughly process it. Charlinder didn’t walk across the world in a day, nor can you read about his adventure in such a short period of time. Life isn’t about the destination, after all. Enjoy the journey; enjoy the read and the inevitable introspection that comes along with it. I did.
About the author: Alyson Miers was born into a family of compulsive readers and thought it would be fun to get on the other side of the words. She attended Salisbury University, where she majored in English Creative Writing for some reason, and minored in Gender Studies. In 2006, she did the only thing a 25-year-old with a B.A. in English can do to pay the rent: joined the Peace Corps. At her assignment of teaching English in Albania, she learned the joys of culture shock, language barriers and being the only foreigner on the street, and got Charlinder off the ground. She brought home a completed first draft in 2008 and, between doing a lot of other stuff such as writing two other books, she managed to ready it for publication in 2011. She regularly shoots her mouth off at her blog, The Monster’s Ink, when she isn’t writing fiction or holding down her day job. She lives in Maryland with her computer and a lot of yarn. Connect with Alyson on her website,blog, Facebook,Twitter or GoodReads.