The Misfortunates

The Misfortunates - Dimitri Verhulst I obtained this book through Goodreads' First Reads and really enjoyed it for the most part. The style of writing drew me in, making it easy to get lost in the narrative. The characters felt real, and generally I sympathized with the protagonist and understood his point of view, although some of his thoughts and choices annoyed me enough to keep things lively.

The only thing that threw me off while I was reading was the non-linear timeline. Generally the book would seem to be going along chronologically, and then it would skip ahead for a bit, only to backtrack. Sometimes I had trouble understanding where something fit in the overall timing but with context managed to sort it out.

There were elements of the story that were glossed over that I felt could have used more attention. Dimitri's continuing antagonism toward his mother into adulthood seems extreme without a little more backstory. It is clear that the Verhulst family wasn't hard to find, and that she seemingly made no attempt to contact her son. It is unusual that she didn't make a reappearance somewhere around the time the social workers and foster system became involved (which were also only briefly introduced). This indifference on her part is more illustrative of their relationship than the "pee pass" embarrassment. His reference to her as a whore without explanation also seems odd and more detail on that would have been helpful in aligning the reader firmly on Dimitri's side against her.

Dimitri clearly becomes a very different person by the end of the book than he gearing up to be during his childhood, and I would have liked to witness the evolution of that person more. It's hard to see what changed without more detail about those years in foster care and directly following. That said, I enjoyed the book and would definitely read more by this author.