Goodreads rating: 3.88
Date published: Feb 25th, 2003 (USA)
My rating: ★★★★☆
On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.
Atonement is a required read for my Academic Writing class, and I am to write an essay on it. I expected it to just be another book I read for college and felt rather “meh” about. However, that is totally not the case – I really got wrapped up in the story, and it affected me in a way I was not expecting.
I’d like to start by saying that this review will be a mess, because I finished the book just about 15 minutes ago, and have been crying until now. As you can imagine, I have a lot of feelings.
As you can probably tell by the synopsis, this book focuses, at first, on misinterpretation. I think Atonement showed me – or reinforced the notion – that it is extremely important to have knowledge of every point of view, and that assuming is the worst thing you can do – especially in a situation like the one we see in Atonement. After Briony’s misinterpretation, she attempts to find atonement. Whether she reaches atonement or not could be a whole (long) essay in itself, so I won’t go into that.
One of the things I disliked about the book was how McEwan takes FOREVER to tell the story. It honestly felt like the book would never end. The first part especially was soooo slow. His writing is great, but it is so incredibly descriptive, and he literally describes EVERYTHING you could possibly describe in each scenario. It’s exhausting at times, but it is very good if you’re into good imagery. Speaking of imagery, I will have to give a trigger warning for rape (barely described at all, but it’s there) and, mostly, war, as the author focuses on it for a while. He also describes all sorts of injuries in British and French soldiers, so it’s definitely not a pleasant thing to read.
The three main characters in the story were pretty well-developed, but, as in many many other books, the other characters were just vaguely explored. It’s a shame, as I would have loved to read from the others’ perspectives for longer than just one chapter. Speaking of perspectives and characters, the main character, Briony, was terrible. I hate her with a passion, but since the whole book is about her actions and their repercussions, you have no other choice but to read from her perspective for a big percentage of the book – which was excruciating for me, as you can imagine.
To finish off, I don’t want to get too spoilery, so I will just say this: this ending absolutely WRECKED me. I can’t stop thinking about it, can’t stop crying about it, and I think I might hate my teacher a little for putting me through this pain. My heart can’t handle this!
★★★★☆ 4/5 stars
Have you read Atonement? What did you think about that ending? Let me know in the comments! ♡
In conclusion, I definitely recommend that you pick up Atonement, even if you’re not a big fan of historical fiction (which I am not myself). It is a story that is worth reading, and will definitely engage you! I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on Atonement and if you’d like, check out my other book reviews!
Thank you so much for reading,
I’ll see you in my next post ♡