The Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona
Review by Molly
When Rudy arrives in Barcelona he is an American planning for a bit of adventure, a bit of time away from home and a time for learning to live on his own. He has no idea just how "on his own" life is to become. Rudy is accosted, robbed, raped and left with only the clothes on his back and his wit for survival.
Alone in a foreign country he takes to the street where survival becomes a day to day confrontation. When Rudy discovers his missing passport is in possession of a madman, Pietro, Rudy knows he must somehow retrieve the document. His attempt to get help at the American Consulate was nothing he expected, and his only hope now is to stay alive long enough to get the passport back so that he can leave Barcelona.
Sleeping in corners, on concrete floors, and in the open, bathing in the sink at the train station or not at all, begging for money or food, luxuriating in the burgers thrown into the bin behind the McDonalds, growing more and more dirty and more hopeless each day; Rudy does make acquaintance with kids his own age. Some allow him to spend a night or two, to actually shower in a real shower and sleep in a real bed. At last with the passport in hand his escape from Barcelona can become a fact. Now if only he had enough money to board the ferry.
The resiliency of the human spirit is explored to depth in Henry Martin's first novel. The Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona is not a work for the faint of heart. Rudy is a strong character, he befriends social rejects when he finds he has become one, he faces the panic of reality, steps away from emotion in order to survive, and gains an appreciation for life that might never have realized if his weekend jaunt had only been one filled with ease and carefree moments. He has been forced to face himself, and he has won. Delving into sexuality, drugs, petty crime he bucks authority and ultimately creates his niche in the mishmash roaming Barcelona streets.
At times unrefined and raunchy The Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona carries the reader along on a philosophical journey toward acceptance of realizing what can and cannot be changed, of playing the cards that are dealt and making the most of them. Writer Martin is proving himself as an adept poet and novelist. Rudy comes to value that hope can exist, in even the most bleak of circumstances. The reader is propelled along a fast past in this psychological moment in a young man's growing awareness of himself, of the strength he possesses and never before realized. He learns that the will to survive is too strong to allow it to fade and that he can do whatever he must to survive and move on.
Not for the faint of heart, some language will offend the easily offended. Not a book for a lazy afternoon, but an excellent one for the reader who likes a little substance between the covers. Good choice for the high school and adult reader, the personal reading list and the high school library. I was sent a soft cover copy for review. Intriguing read, happy to recommend for those who enjoy the genre. Not for everyone.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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