Dorie's Reviews > The Confessions of Max Tivoli

The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer
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's review
Apr 29, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Read in April, 2005

This is quite simply a beautifully told, deeply moving story. Max Tivoli is born in 1871, wrinkled, palsied, and blind with the cataracts of a 70-year old man. Max, it seems, is a physical oddity -- his body will age backwards. Warned by his parents never to let anyone know the truth, Max follows "The Rule" most of his life, and considers himself cursed, a "Monster".
The story is told from Max’s point of view, as if writing an autobiographical history to his son Sammy. As the story starts out, Max (58 years old and passing himself off as 12), has managed to insinuate himself into his son’s life in order to be near him. The story of Max’s life mostly revolves around Alice, the love of his life who he unfortunately meets when he is 17 and she is 14. Since he looks like a 53-year old, he can’t pursue her as any other normal boy. Other than his family, the other major relationship in his life is Hughie, who he meets on his first real outing at a park when the boys are both 6 years old. Too young and surprised to see a real boy close up for the first time to censor himself, Max blurts out to Hughie the truth about his age. After questioning him, Hughie believes him and begins a life-long friendship.

The author’s writing is beautifully descriptive, even if it seems melodramatic at times. And some of his similes definitely need work. But these are nitpicks in an otherwise wonderful novel. One small warning -- have a box of Kleenex handy when you begin the book. I’ll admit I cried at several different passages.

I would highly recommend Confessions as a book club selection due to its many layers, themes, and the situations the characters experience.

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