Review: The Taste of Apple
Author: James Laidler
No of Pages: 312
Release Date: 1 September 2010
UNDERNEATH THE APPLE SKIN THERE IS KNOWLEDGE AND HIDDEN DEEP WITHIN THE SEEDS OF CHANGE.
Pedro Jones is lost. Abandoned by his father and forced into commission housing with his Filipino immigrant mother, the future seems bleak.
But when Pedro meets the ‘mad’ street busker, Johnny Lazzaro, and gets involved with the East Timor freedom movement, life takes an unexpected detour through the uncharted backblocks of the human heart.
The Taste of Apple was not only better than I was expecting, it was exceptional.
Pedro is a half-caste living in Australia with his Filipino mother and Australian father. Life is as ok as it gets when your parents have a strained relationship and you’re going to a school where everyone hates you because of your intelligence and your background. But everything changes when Pedro’s father leaves one day and never comes back, leaving nothing but a note for his wife saying that it is time to move on.
Pedro and his mum move to Richmond, Victoria which isn’t the greatest of places, especially for migrants. There he meets Johnny a street busker who lives in his building. It’s Johnny that helps Pedro figure out what he wants from life and Johnny who helps him see what he has to be thankful for.
The Taste of Apple was an addictive read but also so incredibly powerful that it wasn’t a need to read just to get to the end but sheer want to continuously delve into the setting Laidler created with his prose. It wasn’t about the finish but about the journey Pedro went on to find himself, and his place in this life.
Laidler writes solely in freelance poetry, and while I would usually cringe at the thought of this, as I have in the past, he created a new appreciation in me for the style. Laidler uses his poetry for hard-hitting scenes and to create feelings I can’t imagine being created any other way. My stomach physically clenched and I actually had a head whip during some of the things Laidler showed us.
On top of Laidler's exquisite writing he also offers up a soundtrack to go with his novel. I was hesitant about this concept at first myself but once I settled into the occasional poem being read out to me with the accompaniment of music and sounds to go with it, a new level of understanding was reached a new depth to the story added and I began reading The Taste of Apple truly with Pedro in my head and the sounds of Richmond surrounding me.
The Taste of Apple was a superb read one I don’t feel I can do justice with this review. The Taste of Apple will make you smile, make you laugh and bring you close to tears with a few simple verses. I can’t fault it in any way. One would think that there would be a lack of character development and sure I don’t know what Pedro really looks like, because I never watched him in this story, but I know how he thinks, how he feels and what he wants because I was looking out through his eyes, and I think The Taste of Apple is the finest experience of looking out a characters eyes that I have ever read or will read for a long time to come.
The Taste of Apple is an experience I encourage anyone and everyone to at least try, because once you start, it will be difficult to stop.