Audiobook Review: West of Here by Jonathan Evison

This was one of those books that has teased at the edge of my reading consciousness for months now. This was one of those books I picked up on a whim, thinking somewhere in the back of my head that I had heard good things. This was one of those books that immediately grabbed me, gave me a lesson or three or four or twelve about myself and others and the world we live in and how it got here. This was one of those books I read and has continued to tease the edge of my reading consciousness, existing now as a story in its own right and not merely as an impression of one.

In short, this is the kind of book I can recommend wholeheartedly to all of those other readers out there who have seen the fleeting bits of hype or heard a passing word on the title.

West of Here
is a big, generous novel, taking in multiple generations of settlers in Port Bonita, a small town on Washington's coast (the state, not The District). Whether focused on the aspiring woman journalist, a struggling adventurer, an ex-con looking for direction, or a pothead kid living on an Indian reservation, the cast of characters in West of Here are all inspiring in that they are seeking to be inspired. They are open to the world, waiting for direction, looking for direction, knowing nothing more but that that direction must be onward. They start with promise, and do not disappoint.

Jonathan Evison has succeeded here in creating the kind of dense novel that readers love, full of the important ideas of history, love, the environment, Big Foot, and loyalty. With West of Here, he has brought readers a palate of characters that are intimately recognizable, and in doing so, he has created a work of fiction that succeeds in the best of ways: it lingers on, proving important in understanding both our history and our present.

A dose of reality with a touch of mysticism, West of Here is at times witty, at times funny, and at other times rather sad. But throughout it all, there is an underlying feeling of hope, that we, like the characters we come to know so well, have some element of potential within us, if only we can identify it, and therefore move onward.


A note on the audio: This narrator rocks it. 'Nough said.


Thoughts from other bookworms:

The Book Lady's Blog
Large Hearted Boy
Beth Fish Readsa home between the pages
Bermuda Onion


More from Jonathan Evison:

All About Lulu


  1. Awesome - great to hear a good review of this book. I bought it when it first came out, but it kept moving down my priority list as I read a few lukewarm reviews. I was excited for it when it came out though - reminds me a little of The Brothers K, one of my favorite novels of all time.

    I love your last paragraph - very well said!

  2. I have seen West of Here at the library and read reviews that had me thinking I would pass this one by. You have changed my mind and I am going to reserve the audio from my library right now!

  3. Greg - I'm surprised. I feel as though this book has lingered on the edge of my consciousness for months and only from reading positive reviews. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it. I really did find it powerful... I finished it nearly a month ago and I'm still reviewing bits and pieces here and there, which I think is a sign of a successful book.

    Elisabeth - I love libraries for just that reason. My copy was from my own library. I can read so many more audiobooks that way (or listen to, I suppose) - they are too expensive otherwise!


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