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The Lifters

Review

The Lifters

At first THE LIFTERS by Dave Eggers seems like any other book as it opens with the familiar premise of a kid whose family is moving away from their home to some place new to them, but from their parent’s historic past. The main character named Gran does not want to move and is hesitant about the family’s new arrangement that he’s powerless to change. Gran grows more skeptical of his new town, Carousel, as he notices that it seems to all be sinking into a sinkhole and no one really seems to notice him or acknowledge the town’s secret problems until major structures collapse.

"THE LIFTERS is a masterpiece that Dave Eggers really nailed and while everything was tied up nicely in the end, one can only hope a possible sequel is on the way."

With his father away looking for work, his wheelchair bound mother seemingly sick and five-year-old sister needing to be cared for, the only person Gran has close to a friend is a girl named Catalina. While she isn’t the most courteous or very friendly to Gran, she does make comments his way showing that she is one of the only people in the town acknowledging his presence. Gran also discovers interesting truths and secrets about the town and life in general when he follows her and sees her open up the Earth with a small handle and go inside of it. Gran is a very relatable character as he tries to figure his life out, but it’s refreshing to see a girl as tough and strong as Catalina playing his opposite as the plot grows more unique and interesting.

The town of Carousel becomes enticing as Gran learns the origin of its name actually comes from the fact that the town used to manufacture carousels and the biggest, most elaborate one was right in town outside of city hall. Carousels, or Merry-go-rounds, were how the town used to thrive and many people in town earned a living working in the factory that made them, but soon roller coasters were in more demand in amusement parks and carousels began to lose popularity. People in the town of Carousel lost their jobs at the factory and as times became hard the carousel outside of city hall sank into the ground.

This whole part of the plot is enough to make one want to go out and research the history and making of carousels and answer questions like if it is true they started to lose their popularity when people started building roller coasters or if the outside was purposefully made more decorative than the inside because it was what would be seen? This book really took something that most readers will remember from their childhood and turn it into a remarkable remnant of the story.

Not only is it fun to picture the ornate animals and decor of the carousels through the book, but there are also beautiful illustrations of the town. These illustrations are a fun extension of the narrative and if the reader pays close enough attention they will easily pick up on some plot foreshadowing. This visual aspect moves the plot to the next level.

The cohesiveness of the plot to the themes is also extraordinary. There are unprecedented parallels drawn between the ground collapsing, people physically collapsing and people emotionally collapsing and how all of these can be caused by a hollowness that runs through and attacks. Plus, the solution of filling everything up is useful.

The voice and humor in this book is similar to what one might find in a book by Lemony Snicket with brief interruptions and useful words of advice to kids from the narrator. THE LIFTERS is a masterpiece that Dave Eggers really nailed and while everything was tied up nicely in the end, one can only hope a possible sequel is on the way.

Reviewed by Angela Warsinske on April 24, 2018

The Lifters
by Dave Eggers