Book review - Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Set in the near future Bewilderment is the story of Theo, a father trying his best to raise his 9 year old son after the sudden death of his mother. Theo is an astrobiologist, searching for life on other planets, but his son Robin is utterly consumed by this world and its ecological problems.
I really enjoyed this book, it is a quick read for something dealing with such big issues. Is there life on other planets? Are we utterly alone in the universe? Is the natural world doomed? And why won't humanity act? What is the best way to deal with a sensitive 9 year old who is feeling more and more panicked and upset at the state of the world?
This is a book that raises many more questions than it answers. In fact I don't think it sets out to answer any of these questions, because none of know the solution. We only know that these are things worth thinking about.

I did disagree a little with Theo's absolute insistence on avoiding medication. Too often medication for mental health is portrayed in a negative light, and it is certainly not the answer for every case, but here Theo doesn't even seem to visit a doctor to ask or investigate further, instead resorting to an experimental behavioural procedure instead.

The parts of this book that revolved around Theo and Robin were great. And the whole theme of the book, "bewilderment" at other people, at the state of the world, and even at our own actions, is one I can appreciate. But overall it didn't quite succeed. Worth a read, but it does have flaws.

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