Cover Image: Wait Softly Brother

Wait Softly Brother

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Member Reviews

A captivating piece of auto fiction exploring grief, self, and identity. Although the writing was a little clunky and the exposition requiring some further exploration, I look forward to reading more works by Kathryn

Trigger warnings for infant death, family lies, war injuries, murder, ptsd and sexual exploitation

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I couldn't finish this audiobook. I stuck with it to 16% but I wasn't the least bit interested in the plot or any of the characters at that point. Not worth my time.

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Unfortunately, this was a DNF for me (50%). I found the switch between past and present to be very jarring each time, where I prefer some flow or commonality to dual timelines. Part of what made it jarring is the level of violence and crudeness to the past. It is accurate to that time period, and she speaks to it in the book that female authors should be able to write violence also. My issue isn't with either of those things, but with lack of relatedness between the two. It left me uninvested in either timeline, and confused as to what one really had to do with the other.

Thank you for the opportunity to review and provide honest feedback.

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I loved reading WAIT SOFTLY BROTHER by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer so I was really excited to listen to the audiobook version. I loved the structure of the writing in this novel. It’s part autofiction and part historical fiction. The main character, Kathryn, returns to her childhood home to help her parents and tries to write the story of her stillborn brother but instead writes the story of Russell Boyt who fought in the American Civil War. I loved the contrast between the two timelines and how they were intertwined through to the end. There is intense sadness in this book but also humour which is another great duality. I loved the natural dialogue between Kathryn and her parents. Her mother says “your Google” and “the Skype”. The addition of photos adds another realistic quality. I do prefer the physical book since the audiobook doesn’t include the photos but it’s still great how there’s a clear separation for the timeline. The narrator Helen K. Taylor did an excellent job. This is one of my fave CanLit novels of last year!

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This is an a-typical mix of autofiction and family memoir, which convinced me only in part.

The chapters alternate between Kathryn – who is in a marital crisis and has returned to her parents – and the (rather more compelling) biography she dreams up of her ancestor who served in the Civil War as a so-called ´substitute´ soldier, taking the place in the army of a richer man.

Gradually the parallels between Kathryn´s life and that of her ancestor become clearer, which may of course be due to the fact that it is Kathryn inventing his life based on the scant biographical details at her disposal. I enjoyed the ending, which cleared up some lingering doubts.

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I am not publishing this on Goodreads because I don’t think it is fair when I haven’t finished the book. I did read 20% after stopping and forcing myself to return to it several times. I found the first 20% to be negative, disjointed, and full of characters that are not presented in any sort of likable fashion to cause me to care about their journeys.

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This autofiction novel will captivate readers who are drawn to enigmatic plots, deep explorations of identity, the interplay between reality and fiction, and intertwined storylines. The protagonist, a writer, leads us on a quest to uncover her family history while immersing us in the fictionalized account of her ancestor, Russell Boyt.

The story comes together seamlessly in the end, yet the journey to get there was not as engaging as anticipated. The primary challenge lies in comprehending the motivations and internal logic of the main character and Boyt, both of whom are not particularly endearing, making it hard to empathize with their journeys. While it took me a while to complete, I ultimately found the book rewarding. The author skillfully evokes a vivid sense of place and atmosphere through her writing.

As an audiobook, the narration is superb, although it would have been enhanced by the use of a male narrator for Boyt’s chapters. Nevertheless, Taylor delivers an exceptional performance, skillfully handling both narratives.

Characters - 5
Atmosphere - 9
Writing - 7
Plot - 7
Intrigue - 8
Logic - 5
Enjoyment - 4

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Wholly unique, and unusual. The beginning of the book was a real struggle and I thought for a bit it’d be a dnf, but then something changed and I was hooked.

A story within a story really captured the imagination and I soon found I was thoroughly enjoying both the novel and the auto fiction that our protagonist created. I loved the fact that myth and legend were carefully woven into truth. The basis for Kathryn writing the autofiction was excellent. The way the two stories intertwine was quite beautiful.

The narration was excellent too!

A somewhat tricky 4 stars, but once I was in I was all in.

Thank you to NetGalley and ECW Press Audio for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook in return for an honest review.

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The heart, soul, and very real family epoch that creates the lore for this novel are so very tangible and real-feeling. Kathryn, the main character of this book fashioned after Kathryn, this book's creator, spends so much energy trying to explain to her parents the nature of her fiction, all while the author Kathryn is doing the same behind the scenes. The idea of this book felt very personal, but the execution as a work of fiction felt a bit lackluster. Half of the book is spent following Kathryn as she digs deeper into her personal family lore, and the other half of the novel reads as Kathryn's own fictional writing, creating two distinct narratives in one beautiful book. It was hard not to enjoy one storyline more than the other, however, creating a sense of imbalance. Kathryn's experiences felt boring compared to her writing of characters living through the Civil War. The novel within the novel won out for me in terms of enjoyment - at other times, I found myself just bored.

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2.5 stars rounded up.

This author put the "creative" in creative writing. It was too florid for me, and the dialog stilted. A freed slave talked like that? Elderly parents? It was almost like reading a long book co-authored with Wes Anderson. There were aspects of the story that were intriguing but the surrealness distracted, as well as all the obfuscation by the supporting characters and the unreliable narrative from Boyt's perspective. For example. "I seem to have slipped out of my personhood, it was that incantatory." I don't necessarily think it would've been improved by dumbing down the text, but it felt inauthentic, attributing all these language attributes to every character. And the characters were all 100% annoying, even the child. Her parents and Boyt particularly. Auto fiction in reality.

What I did like was the chaotic, out-of-control spinning in both timelines, and we don't know if it will blow up on the two characters or they will find salvation. Great flood imagery is used in both to push the tumult. If Boyt had been remotely likable or empathetic, it would've lent more to his storyline. However, his narrative came from the protagonist's own imagination, and though she was not as worrisome, she was completely unlikable and unsympathetic herself. Through most of the book I thought the author was trying too hard, over-writing, over creative, taking away from her.... personhood.

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It for me I’m afraid. I hadn’t even heard of auto fiction but I won’t be looking for more of the same. It felt self indulgent and apart from the excellent historical interest which was clearly very well researched I was bored by the book.

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This was beautifully written, with some truly lovely turns of phrase, but the story lagged in places. I didn't enjoy the revolutionary war storyline, which is a significant portion of the story (even as it's told as a story within a story). I'm not much of a historical fiction fan, so I found myself always racing through those portions to get back to the contemporary story of the biblical rains.

📚 Series or Standalone: standalone
📚  Genre: literary fiction
📚 Target Age Group: adult
📚  Cliffhanger: no

✨  Will I Reread: no
✨  Recommended For: literary fiction fans who enjoy war stories

💕  Characters: 4/5
💕  Writing: 5/5
💕  Plot: 3/5
💕  Pacing: 3/5
💕  Unputdownability: 2/5
💕  Enjoyment: 3/5
💕  Book Cover: 3/5

Thanks, NetGalley and Bookrider Books, for the gifted ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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