Trust – by Hernan Diaz – independent book review – Historical Fiction (United States)

When a friend first told me about this book, I was completely intrigued for a couple of reasons. The author had previously won multiple awards for his first novel, IN THE DISTANCE. And this second novel is built around the intersection of story and truth and how the two change depending on who is narrating. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the novel’s execution nearly as intriguing as the premise. Awarded three stars on Goodreads; if pushed, I might say 3.5.

TRUST is a uniquely constructed book  Author Hernan Diaz has divided the book into four sections, each with its own author and perspective. And these section authors use different writing constructs – i.e. novel, first person account, or cryptic personal diary entries. But despite these differences, all four parts orbit around the same two people – a successful and very wealthy NYC financier and his wife in the early to mid 1900s.

As readers move from story to story, their opinions will likely shift and the book becomes an exercise in figuring out which account you believe to be closest to the truth. Are insiders more reliable, or outsiders? Can people be accurate in their self-assessments? Whose version of events do you “trust” most? Ultimately, it winds up being mostly up to you to decide. 

What I found however is that after starting the book completely absorbed, I became less so as I progressed. I found what I experienced as deliberate confusion. Some people were introduced, details of their lives shared but I didn’t care much about any of them. And in hindsight much of the information included wasn’t relevant to the overarching story. Finally, what I think was intended to be a BIG surprise (at the end of the book) didn’t turn out to be a worthy enough pay-off for me. Or even that much of a surprise.

Author Hernan Dias
Photo from his Website

The novel did feel original in that I have never read a book with this kind of structure. And I did appreciate the overall theme – that all individuals see things differently. That is something I think we all too often forget. So, I recommend the book. I just thought it had the potential to be better. 

More about the author, Hernan Diaz.

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