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Atonement by Ian McEwan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I was introduced to Atonement by my best friend, who told me that it was her all-time favorite movie and that she really wanted to read the book. We watched the movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed, adoring its deeper meaning. And it's a good book. A really good book. I'm only sorry I took so long to read it.

Atonement is a story about the power of words and truth, how blurry the line can be between a crime and a misunderstanding, and, of course, what it takes to atone and earn forgiveness. These themes are present throughout the story; we see them through the blunt and imaginative eyes of a child, the tortured soul of a soldier, and the work of a woman striving to fix what she destroyed and create a new life from the ashes.

It's eerie how much I relate to Briony, the protagonist. I won't bore you with the details, but this is how the novel hooked me so strongly. Every bit of Briony's thoughts came alive on the page. But that's not the only reason the story stayed with me. The tale, though presented in a simple and sometimes passive tone, is haunting. And I think this effect was achieved through the primary device of the novel: ambiguity.

Even the event that spurred the entire novel was caused by ambiguity: Briony had no idea what Cecilia and Robbie were actually doing by the fountain, but she made some hazy hypotheses. Why did Briony target Robbie? Why didn't she ever ask an adult what was going on? Because she loved the mystery? There are answers to these questions, but there are so many possibilities that in most cases, readers must simply decide what happened for themselves.

Ian McEwan's writing is brilliant. Just when I thought the story is slowing down, the pace picks up and sucks me in again. With beautiful language and imagery painting a clear picture, the reader feels right there, marching beside Robbie or working next to Briony. ­Despite its length, Atonement didn't feel drawn out (although the second part was harder for someone like me, who isn't interested in war stories); every word is important to the plot. McEwan is truly a master of the English language.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It was inspiring and compelling, and, I think, deserves to be a part of the literary canon.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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