1975: M.C. Higgins, The Great

VERDICT: Trash

Sally’s Rating: 1.5/5

M.C. Higgins, The Great is a coming of age novel that follows the three days of M.C.’s life where he is visited by a man who wants to record his mother’s voice and songs. He also develops an awkward relationship with a girl who is camping up in the mountains, where the issues of environmentalism come into play in the novel.

I had to force myself to keep reading this book to make it to the end. The plot meanders for about 300 pages, resulting in a book that is full of description but lacking a strong narrative. The author devotes a lot of the book to descriptions of the mountains and Appalachia – which is beautiful to read about but fails to make this a real page turner. The focus on environmental issues is the best part of the book as M.C.’s home is threatened by the slag heap that is encroaching upon his territory.

Ultimately, it’s the narrator’s voice and inner thoughts that make this book a bit of a muddle to get through. The narration style hints of a modernist/postmodernist fusion with its stream of consciousness and author’s manipulation of the text – which makes the novel seem like it’s for an older audience that what it was marketed towards. M.C. is a very awkward character and his interactions with the other characters make it hard to connect with his character.

I found it hard to understand what exactly author Virginia Hamilton was trying to convey throughout this novel. The disjointed narration and unlikeable main characters made this a tough one to get through, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

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