The book featured in the August ‘Going Home’ box from Ninja Book Box was A Map Of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal. Published by And Other Stories, this was a book and publisher that I was not familiar with. In this, his debut novel, Lytal explores what happens when we return home, and when we meet a person that has the power to change our path.
The story is told in two parts. In the first part we meet Jim Praley, who is returning to his hometown of Tulsa for the summer. It is when he is invited to a party that he begins an unforgettable summer. At the party he meets a girl named Adrienne Booker. Adrienne is a girl that holds a power over Tulsa, the daughter of a wealthy family; she is a promising artist living in a penthouse apartment. When Jim and Adrienne meet, an attraction is formed, and despite being a girl who seems disinterested in relationships, she takes an interest in Jim. And the reader gets to see how the relationship develops between the two, as it is with Adrienne by his side that he discovers a new side to Tulsa. But there comes a point in which they have to say goodbye, and Jim returns to college, eventually finding work in New York. But he then hears news which draws him back to Tulsa, five years on from his memorable summer with Adrienne.
The premise of this book intrigued me, and I was interested in finding out what happened to bring Jim back to Tulsa and what happened that summer. However, as I read on the story didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped. I think this is in part due to the main characters who I didn’t find particularly likeable. I also found it a little odd that he would travel all the way from New York to Tulsa, leaving his job behind to see a girl who essentially he had a brief fling with years previously. I liked that it was split into the two parts and in terms of the writing there were moments that I thought were well written. I was also intrigued about the prospect of more details about the characters and their history coming out which kept my interest, and I got through this book pretty quickly. Overall though, whilst I didn’t mind this book, it did fall a little flat for me, and I can’t really put my finger on why!
I was disappointed not to have enjoyed A Map Of Tulsa more than I had hoped as the concept was an interesting one. It is a story of life and love and coming home, and the distances between individuals, and across cities.