Rachel's Reviews > The Dew Breaker

The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
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Sep 01, 12

bookshelves: summer-reading
Read in August, 2012

I thought I would like the The Dew Breaker much more than I did. The idea of a linked story cycle—multiple stand-alone short stories that are actually connected but can be read separately—is an interesting one. I was expecting a sort of panoramic view, an exploration of perspective and time. Instead, most of the stories offered very little. They contained about as much plot as the regular short story, but strung it out over too many pages. The lines between characters were underdeveloped, which was disappointing. I was looking forward to seeing how these different personages buffeted each other around, changed the course of each other’s lives. Many of the characters were difficult to become invested in. “Water Child” and “The Book of Miracles” seemed to drag on, taking potentially gripped concepts and spinning them into page after page of dully-written, repetitive introspection.
There are a few standouts. “The Funeral Singer,” in particular, was gorgeous. Danticat proves her acumen as a writer, tapping into deep wells of human misery. The characters “parcel out their sorrows, each walking out with fewer than [they had] carried in,” (170). While Ka’s father, the dew breaker, doesn’t make an appearance in this story, the characters all deal with the aftermath of his actions, a mark on their lives that they can’t ignore. Other troubles—poverty, alienation, difficult schoolwork—press down, but they can’t seem to reach past the deep-rooted sadness these women carry around. They have seen so much death that they cannot help but be aware of their own mortality, can’t help but wonder who will sing at their funerals
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