A Ladder to the Sky – John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: PRH Canada
Published: 2018
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Literary Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Historical Fiction, Books about Books, Writing, Family, Success


I have never before genuinely despised an antihero. Antiheroes are hella fun. By that I mean that I love to root for them because they’re often unpredictable, unconventional and unusual and they don’t care to play the role of the good guy. They live by their own rules and that can be really entertaining to witness.

But Maurice Swift is not like that. He is a liar through and through and tries hard to belong and charm so as to take whatever he wants from people before discarding them. I cannot stand those types of people, hypocrite ones, so I found this character absolutely despicable. That is up until we finally got to his POV. Interestingly enough, the story is told from multiple POVs, people who see Maurice and are part of his entourage but that are unaware of what nefarious ideas swirl in his head.

So it’s very easy to despise him, seeing that it’s easier to sympathize with someone who shares their mind with us (the narrator) than with someone whose actions we witness through the narrator’s eyes but that are not necessarily explained to us. This is why I finally managed to feel something other than hatred for Maurice in the end—because he finally started to talk to us, open himself up to us. That’s when he became human to me.

This is a ‘‘one of a kind’’ book. A memorable story spanning decades about the positive and negative consequences of ambition.


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