Amazon.com knows me too well. Every morning I wake up and have a new email lying in wait: “20 percent off the Best Books of 2011!” or “Critics Love This Amazing Read!” Enticed, I open the email to discover which book I have to buy next. Unfortunately, due to my limited funds, I am unable to purchase all of the books I want. This means that the same “Amazing Reads!” tend to cycle through my inbox, and for the past few months The Sense of Ending by Julian Barnes has been one of them.

I finally decided to check out The Sense of an Ending from Lau (yes, you can actually do that) and see what all of the hullabaloo was about. My first impression was that it was short. At 150 pages, it’s more of a novella than a full-blown epic novel. In it, middle-aged divorcee Tony Webster narrates a coming of age/coming to terms with imminent death story (who knew that was possible?).

The first half of The Sense of an Ending focuses on Tony’s adolescence, which comes back to haunt him later. During high school, Tony and his pals befriend Adrian Finn, a somber but brilliant boy who changes the dynamic of their friendship. Tony and his friends all separate to attend different colleges and eventually drift apart. This is due, in part, to a rift between Tony and Adrian, which is caused by some awkward girlfriend swapping.

Forty years later, Tony is divorced (still no luck with the ladies) but content nonetheless. His life gets turned upside down by a mysterious bequest from his college girlfriend’s mom. This leads Tony on a journey that involves lots of awkward conversations with said ex-girlfriend, maybe that wasn’t the best way to handle that situation regrets and reminiscing about the good old days.

Maybe it’s because I’m not old enough yet or because I have no soul, but I do not get the appeal of this book. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a total book snob, so the “Man Booker Prize Winner” sticker on the cover would normally be enough reason for me to read it and expect to love it. After I finished (the only reason I even got that far was because I wanted to solve the mystery of the random bequest), I was underwhelmed.

To me, The Sense of an Ending did not live up to its reviews. I did not find it to be the perceptive memoirs of a nostalgic, aging man. If I wanted that I would read Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House(we’ve already established I’m a book snob, so stop judging me), which is far more achingly nostalgic and a much better read.

The Sense of an Ending falls flat because it fails to provide any truly perceptive insights into the point of view of a man reliving memories of his youth. The style is simple and understated, which contributes to the brevity but paints a too-sparse picture of Tony’s life. Amazon.com let me down this time, but I’m going to save you the trouble and advise you to avoid this book.

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