Young powerless to make sense of adult world

THE RISE & FALL OF GREAT POWERS<br><b>Tom Rachman</b><br><i>Text Publishing</i>
THE RISE & FALL OF GREAT POWERS<br><b>Tom Rachman</b><br><i>Text Publishing</i>
Tooly Zylberberg's story begins in a rundown, struggling, second-hand bookshop in a Welsh village, in 2011.

In the second chapter, the reader is transported in both time and place to Manhattan in 1999.

It is important to get used to this transport, as it happens throughout the book. If this sounds a little offputting, it is nonetheless worth persisting.

Tooly is hunting for something, the nature of which emerges as the story proceeds. The quest takes us from America to Asia, and in the process we meet many fascinating, and sometimes rather awful characters, who emerge in Rachman's writing with wit and precision.

There is Sarah, who appears, makes promises which are invariably not fulfilled, and Venn, whose mischievous grin and charm are somehow misleading.

This is in essence a story about trying to come to terms with the past and the powerless nature of the young to make sense of the words and actions of the adults around them.

- Margaret Bannister is a retired Dunedin psychotherapist and science teacher.

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