The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier

The Illumination was definitely a break from my usual reading material.  It was one of the Amazon Best Books of the Month last year, and is quite unique to say the least.  It is available on the Kindle.  I even saw a reviewer mention that it was available at their library through Kindle Library Lending.

The Illumination is a term referring to the sudden wave of light that shines through the injuries and painful spots on people all over the world.  The book itself is more like a series of five short stories all connected by a journal of love notes written from a man to his wife who later fell victim to a horrific car accident.

The Illumination follows people from all walks of life.  The book opens with a  woman in her 30’s who accidentally cuts her thumb trying to open a package from her ex husband.  Then it goes on to speak from the point of view of a young boy who has what appears to be a form of autism.  It later chronicles the life of a man devoted to carrying out his late sister’s mission work.  These characters, as well as the ones that follow, are all facing major life traumas, but they learn how to overcome adversity.

Yes, the book is dark and depressing, but it also brings out a sense of compassion and in some cases, hope.  I especially enjoyed the journal connection.  The Illumination displays the internal injuries that we otherwise wouldn’t know about, or in some cases choose to ignore.  The interesting part is, everyone just accepts the phenomenon.  It just becomes a part of every day life.

We would definitely think of pain differently if we could see it right in front of our faces.


“Definitely different! I truly liked this novel, mostly for it’s poignant aura, which Brockmeier did an excellent job of maintaining throughout. True, it’s not so much a novel as a collection of five short stories, and perhaps they are fairly disjunct, but each explores a different type of pain or painlessness, and each is connected by the beautifully-written journal around which the novel is built.”