I offered to review Finding Pluck in exchange for a free eCopy after reading the literary reviews and hearing a radio interview with the author. The review below is my honest opinion of this novel. I not only gave it a five-star review, but I also included it in my list of Connie’s Picks.
Finding Pluck addresses global issues of discrimination, integrity, and how genuine empathy promotes prosocial behavior
Winner of the 2014 William Faulkner Literary Award, Finding Pluck is an imaginative coming-of-age story unlike any other. Skilfully interweaving the stories of two young men living in the American South during different eras–Taylor during the 1990s and Bernard during the Roaring Twenties–author Peter Difatta unfolds an engrossing tale. Comic and serious in turns, Finding Pluck deals with issues such as prejudice, betrayal, friendship, love, fairness, sexuality, honesty, bravery, and accountability.
After a farcically perilous flight–in an early dilapidated plane flown by an inebriated pilot–over the University of North Carolina’s grounds, the wing rider is accused by school authorities of showing “pluck,” by which they mean impudence. “Pluck,” however, is also synonymous with adventurousness and heroic daring; and hence it becomes the sobriquet affectionately conferred by his fellow students on Bernard’s lover Damien, the unidentified–by the authorities, at least–daredevil.
The country was being reborn with prosperity, and new accomplishments were revealed daily with the publishing of each newspaper. Lindbergh’s flying solo across the Atlantic, the first air-conditioned theater, the first demonstration of city-to-city television, all were hailed in the mid-1920s, and young people embraced anything that was new. —Finding Pluck
The elusory nature of morality is as slippery as the definition of pluck, and both Bernard and Taylor grapple with what morality means to them. During the Roaring Twenties, despite that decade’s rejection of many traditional moral standards, Bernard initially leads a private and solitary life due to the ignominy of being gay. In 1995, Taylor falsely alleges he’s gay rather than admit to his father he lied to obtain a scholarship– ironically an endowment by Bernard–for gay students willing to fight discrimination against homosexuals. To become honest about and accepting of who they are, both men require the approbation and support that only discerning good friends with their own eccentricities and shortcomings can provide.
So, I see everything going really, really well except for two things. I have to fulfill the requirement for the scholarship, and then there’s the ghost. But the good thing is, I’m not imagining it. Marcia has seen it, too, and wants to help find out what it’s after. She says that’s part of her responsibility as a witch. –Finding Pluck
Fresh and imaginative, this eloquently written novel defies categorisation among the genres of popular fiction. Despite addressing homosexuality , Finding Pluck isn’t gay fiction; it explores the subject of morality, but it’s not a morality tale; although including a witch and ghosts, it’s not a paranormal novel; while love is found in relationships, it isn’t a romance; and the unexplained disappearance of Damien, aka Pluck, fails to render it merely a mystery or a crime novel. I would also hesitate to classify it as “new adult” because, although Finding Pluck includes themes such as leaving home, starting college, making friends after high school, sexuality, identity issues, and loss of innocence, it encompasses so much more of interest and value to readers of all ages.
He stated he was one-and-a-half years short of retirement with a full military pension; nevertheless, he had intended to re-enlist with the desire to reach a higher military rank. But that did not happen. He was exposed as a homosexual and eventually removed from service and stripped of his pension. –Finding Pluck
As a bookseller, I have a personal category in which I would include Finding Pluck: “important novels,” or “novels worth reading.” This category comprises novels that readers consistently find entertaining, intriguing, enriching, and worthy of discussion and debate. (Novels I’ve privately included in this category have deservedly become award winners, book club favourites, and international bestsellers.) Finding Pluck is such a novel.
To find out more, listen to a superb radio interview with the author on his Website, located below the book’s cover image, click HERE
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