The Essence of Nathan Biddle

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A fantastically written book about a boy named Kit Biddle living in Alabama in the late 1950s. Kit is only eighteen years old but seems wise beyond his years as he ponders philosophical subjects throughout the story. The story starts out with Kit hanging out with his Uncle Newt. Newt is a bit of a funny character but has been a sustainable father figure in Kit’s life even though he is not that much older than Kit. Kit’s other uncle, Nat, is in prison for killing his own son, Nathan, the title character after God tells him to do it. We also meet Kit’s friends, Q. Ball, Harry Burchfield, Roby, and Eddie Lichtman whom he does “boy things” with such as throwing around the football and talking about girls. When it comes to Kit, Anna is the girl for him. He meets her when he is delivering furniture to her parents’ home. In his head, she is the most perfect, angelic girl on Earth. Unfortunately, Anna ends up putting Kit in the friend zone. Throughout the story, Kit talks and ponders over existentialism, nothingness, depression, and of course, the true meaning of Darwin’s evolutionary theory in The Origin of Species.

This book had me interested from the very beginning. As the reader looks through the eyes of Kit, it is easy to see how Kit’s family dynamics have not only skewed his thinking but have made him question his own existence. There are so many endearing parts of the book as well that may be looked past if the book is read too quickly. One is that of Kit’s relationship with Coach Kern, his track coach who has nicknamed him “Straw”. Although Coach Kern seems to push Kit quite a bit, it is quite obvious that when he visits Kit in the hospital after a major accident, that he really cares about him, almost like a son. Another part of the book I really liked is where Kit describes his relationship with Sarah, Harry’s sister. Their relationship is a flip-flop of his and Anna’s previous relationship in which Sarah seems to like Kit a lot more than he does her. But Kit is okay with that. The book’s dialogue and the way the characters all act are reminiscent of the 50s down to the fact that there was still segregation between “whites and colored people”.

The Essence of Nathan Biddle is a wonderful, magical story that will have you thinking about its characters well after you put the book down.

Reviewed By:

Author J. William Lewis
Star Count 4.5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 440 pages
Publisher Greenleaf
Publish Date 01-Jun-2021
ISBN 9781626348462
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue May 2021
Category Modern Literature