Who reads the classics anymore? Teens - that's who. Check out this review from one of our Teen Advisory Council volunteers and see if it inspires you to dust off that classic reading list.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's tale of the Buendia family and their home, the mythical city of Macando, can fill any reader with a sense of profound empathy and a feeling of sadness that fits the sad title of the book. Inspired by Latin American history, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells a story of wars and break-ups and betrayals and misfortunes and the innocents who get caught up in between. But despite its dark themes, it isn't all doom and gloom. The characters are all well-developed, with motives and connections and hopes and desires, and this whole story is made so much better by the genre it's told in: magical realism. All of the characters' problems are sprinkled with angels, storms and prophecies, which make the story so rich and mysterious. Who is the man perpetually followed by butterflies? What prophecies lie in the undeciphered texts of Melquiades? Why are there so many people named Aureliano?
If I'm telling the truth, it's hard to write a good book review on One Hundred Years of Solitude without pages of explanation; its plots seem like fables and its characters seem like symbols and there is nothing in the book that can be taken at face value. It's deep and powerful, almost as if it's not telling a story of just some people and place, but of humanity as a whole. And while at times the book can seem like it's all bleak, it ends with a hopeful tone. As Marquez said himself at his Nobel Prize lecture, he believes in "A new and sweeping utopia of life... where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth."
All this having been said, it is not the easiest book to read. Its vocabulary isn't too difficult but its symbolism and metaphors are intense, and it has a cast of characters so complex that it feels almost like a juggling act. The story also plays around with time, throwing in flashbacks and flashforwards and cuts wherever it can. It also contains some mature content too. For all these reasons I can't recommend this book for anybody younger than 15. For adults and mature teens, on the other hand, I think this is a must-read and one of the best books out there. - Nihanth P. (Sunset Teen Advisory Council)