by Jerome Charyn
published by Liveright
Why Read?: Review
Challenges: Historical Fiction, 100 Books in a Year
Jerome Charyn is known for taking historical characters and telling their story. In I Am Abraham, he turns to the great American president, Abraham Lincoln, also dramatizing a nation at war with itself.
Charyn starts his story with a young Abe Lincoln washing up in New Salem, Illinois. From there, we follow his military and political career, as well as his love life. Charyn does not end with Lincoln’s assassination; rather, this known ending is covered in the prologue, which really makes for a unique story devise.
I Am Abraham is the third book by Jerome Charyn I have read. While I loved his YA novel, Back to Battan, his two adult novels I have read, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson and now I Am Abraham, have not sat well with me. There is no denying that Charyn is an expert historical fiction writer, and therein lies the problem. He brings these famous people to life with such believable rawness, that they become too human, even unlikeable. He really brings the feel of the times through with excellent descriptions and accurate language, more so than other writers of the genre, and this I do appreciate.
I Am Lincoln is one of those books that is very hard to review. Jerome Charyn’s writing definitely rates a 5, but the presentation is so off-putting to me, that personally I would rate the book a 1 if asked for my non-reviewer opinion. I think I will have to split the difference.