A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik
|A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A beautifully written heroine with a past that contaminates her every waking moment, you won’t forget Jacqueline.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: August 2013|
|Publisher: John Murray|
|External links: Author's website|
Jacqueline roams the beaches of the Greek islands offering massages for money to ward off starvation. It helps but hunger is always with her, lurking alongside the memory of a former life in Liberia and the mind's ear voice of her mother. Jacqueline is at least alive and existing, but at what cost?
American writer Alexander Maksik's first novel You Deserve Nothing received rave reviews and it looks as though this, his second, is going to be as successful and rightly so. As it draws us in gradually till we're well and truly hooked, I for one am not complaining in the slightest.
We wander around the beaches with Jacqueline, listening to her thoughts and the internal dialogue with her mother without knowing an awful lot about either of them to begin with. However this is fine; after all we've only just met her. As the picture forms there are some missing pieces at which she vaguely hints but don't let this bother you. By the end of the book we know everything in one of the biggest impacting narratives I've ever read.
This may be literature but please don’t let the connotations of the word put you off. Alexander avoids the obscure, ostentatious phrasing that many think of as 'literature' and remains accessible and enthralling satisfying those who love the genre as well as those who have perhaps had bad experiences with it in the past. He writes lilting prose, almost demanding to be read aloud while keeping it more-ish rather than providing intellectual nose bleeds. Alexander maintains our drive and our interest; we want to know more about this young woman, the past of which everything reminds her and why the touch of an arm becomes something worth commenting on repeatedly.
Without giving spoilers away, Jacqueline's past in Liberia is connected to the Charles Taylor regime and its downfall. Something that's just history or public record to those of us who live in safety elsewhere, its effects on individuals may seem remote, or at least up till now. For as Jacqueline shares her mind, we witness how even her reaction to kindness has been tainted by what's gone before; the same events that amputated her ability to trust.
The final revelation is hard hitting and impossible for us to erase from our imaginations and that's how it should be. Remembrance is the least we can do for Jacqueline and those like her; indeed, the very least.
If you'd like to read more about Liberia, try Little Liberia: An African Odyssey in New York City by Jonny Steinberg. If you'd prefer to read another affecting story about another young woman who escaped a conflicted country, we heartily recommend Ru by Kim Thuy and Sheila Fischman (translator)
You can read more book reviews or buy A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik at Amazon.com.
A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik is in the Top Ten Crime Novels 0f 2013.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.