Book Club: Bel Canto Review

Life is an odd thing. Primarily because we have to experience it with others. Being constantly surrounded by other people who can make choices that you have no say in, yet somehow affect you is profoundly frustrating and exhilarating. It is what makes this whole experience of humanity so unique.

Reading Bel Canto, I couldn’t help but constantly be reminded of this. As far as the plot goes, it’s fairly straight forward; a terrorist organization has taken a group of foreign nationals hostage and are wildly unprepared for the crisis that unfolds. But Ann Patchett’s dedication to the little things are what struck me.

What if Mr. Hosokawa’s daughter had never found that CD?

What if the President hadn’t prioritized his soap opera over attending the party?

What if Gen had been unavailable to fly to South America?

The characters all make small decisions throughout the book that makes both them and the situation feel profoundly real. After all isn’t that how life is? The million mundane decisions that make up our day-to-day lives, leading us to the climaxes we never knew we were heading toward.

This book is lovely reading, but more than that, it is a reminder of free will, and how the tiny choices in our lifes define us as much as the large ones. And, in the end, while we may make our own choices, we cannot decide the consequences that accompany them.