Forever is a historical novel that traces the life of the narrator, Cormac O’Connor, from the 1700s outside of Belfast, Ireland to the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City. It’s beautifully written – descriptive and vivid in a way that you can feel, see, smell, touch, and taste New York City. And Hamill weaves history and fiction in such a wonderful way that I immediately devoured the first 400 pages of this 600+ plus novel.
But then there’s a break in the flow as Cormac’s story jumps from American Revolution to the days of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. And then – only a mere forty pages later – Cormac is pointing out the absurdity of the Y2K anxieties. The break stuck with me even after the story returned to it’s previous perfect flow and I was unable to let it do.
I loved how Hamill presented New York as a living, breathing person rather than a place, especially since there is now where in the world like Manhattan. The first one hundred pages are about Ireland and Cormac’s Celtic roots, but Hamill intertwines the Irish into New York in the same manner as they did as immigrants – slowly, but surely.
Living forever means Cormac interacts with so many historical and famous characters – Washington, Boss Tweed – and throws himself into famous moments in New York City and American history – the American Revolution, the race between Hearst and Pulitzer, 9/11. And, as a forewarning, Cormac living forever also means he spends most of his life obsessing over and avenging his parents’ deaths.
I was somewhat disappointed with the ending, but I don’t think it completely detracts from the novel like the time jump does. Ignore the last eleven sentences of Forever and you’ll possibly avoid the disappointment.
Still, Forever is a vivid, unique story that portrays an extremely unique city in a spectacular way. It’s not without it’s disappointments but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Hamill, Pete. Forever. New York: Back Bay Books, 2003. Originally published 2002. Print. 613 pgs. ISBN: 0316735698. Source: Library.