Rita Leganski’s debut novel, The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, draws a reader in to the magical world of the title character. Set in New Orleans in 1950’s, Leganski offers an enchanting story about the lost art of listening.
“Bonaventure Arrow had been chosen to bring peace. There was guilt to be dealt with, and poor broken hearts, and atonement gone terribly wrong. And too there were family secrets to be heard.”
Bonaventure Arrow was born a mute boy with a unique, otherworldly gift of hearing. The boy is able to hear colour, later on in the novel developing his gift to eventually hear whole stories of inanimate objects.
The boy is the key to the family past, present and future. He is a light in the dark days for his young, widowed mother, Dancy, and his poor grand-mère Letice, plagued by grief and guilt, locked away in a chapel. Bonaventure brings peace of mind and healing to those around him but eventually exposes a murder that threatens those same souls.
By the time he turns five the boy can hear flowers grow. He also begins to hear the voice of his dead father, William Arrow who was mysteriously murdered by a man called the Wanderer.
Another pivotal character in the story is Trinidad PreFontaine, a spirited woman and maker of healing potions. She plays a part in developing Bonaventure’s story; she can feel his presence like they are tethered together throughout the unraveling of the story.
The secrets Bonaventure is privy to through his gift provide an explanation of the mysterious fabric that holds his family together, but those same secrets have the capacity to tear the family apart.
This book, written with a feeling of some higher being involved, is more about good versus gloom rather than good versus evil. Leganski uses belief as a tool in this novel, to guide the characters to overcome their barriers and once again find one’s “right path”.