Michelle's Reviews > The Commoner

The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
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's review
Jul 22, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: american
Read in July, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I really wavered between a 3 and a 4 on this book. There were a handful of times as I was reading, when the author used a completely unlikely or unbelievable excuse to explain away why Haruko knew or felt something she ought not have. For example, during a tennis match with the Crown Prince, Haruko describes her tennis partner, an American teenager, as someone who likely came from the American Middle West. Schwartz half-attempts to explain how Haruko might know this, which makes the gaffe even worse - he knew she shouldn't know this, yet he put it in anyway. It was times like that, when Schwartz's voice broke through the narritive while still pretending to be Haruko's, that instantly sucked me out of the story. It is a shame, because those few instances of sloppy writing really marred an otherwise engaging narrative.

The author also glosses over so much of the story - we're told that the Crown Prince became interested in Haruko because she dared to beat him at a game of tennis, and because she spoke her mind. Yet, after the marriage, she is no longer free to be Haruko. Could he still love her if she changed so much? Wouldn't this affect their relationship? It is impossible to tell from the book, as the story of their love is completely flat before and after the wedding.

I also have to agree with a previous reviewer who found that the book didn't capture her attention as well for the first 150 pages or so. The ending was also unbelievable - it felt like he didn't know how to wrap it up, and wanted to give it a happy ending, so cranked out one last chapter. That said, I did have a hard time putting the book down for the second half of the book, so I went with 4 stars, despite my reservations.
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