Book Review: "Firmin" by Sam Savage

Sam Savage’s, "Firmin" is a clever and unique little book about a rat that lives in a bookstore. It is a short (164 pages), but sweet book that is witty, moving and ultimately sad. Nearly the entire novel is set in a bookstore, and there are so many literary references that even a reader who is familiar with many books will still find a few excerpts that require some Googling. All in all, "Firmin" is a reader’s novel that any lover of books will be likely to enjoy.

The titular character of Sam Savage’s novel is a little rat; he is the narrator, and this is his fictional life story. He begins his tale by telling the readers of his birth, childhood and how he came to live in a bookstore in Scollay Square, Boston, Massachusetts. He tells us of his life with his mother and siblings and of how they eventually leave him to live out his life in the bookstore alone. He also tells us how it came to be that he loves books so much.

The story of Firmin’s love of books is one of the more humorous aspects of the novel. As most book lovers that like to keep their books know, rats and mice eat books; Firmin wass no exception as a young rat. However, Firmin came to love reading the books and learned to control his urge to munch them. After Firmin learns to read, he begins to long for human interaction and love. His quest to find it is both sad and uplifting. He suffers many disappointments before finding a true friend in a patron of the bookstore.

Firmin goes to live with his friend for a while, but eventually his bad luck strikes again, when his friend Jerry passes away. Firmin returns to the bookstore, which is attached to the apartment building that Jerry lived in, to find that the owner has been evicted. Firmin holes up in the bookstore anyway and spends his last hours daydreaming and eating books while a fire breaks out in the Scollay Square area of Boston, and the bookstore burns to the ground.

Sam Savage’s "Firmin" is, simply put, a sad, touching, funny and elegant story that is very easy to enjoy. It draws the reader into the plot by coupling serious issues with light and effective humor, while at the same time maintaining simple and interesting characters. This book is sure to please any reader who has a love of unique, clever and thoughtful novels. Any person, who is looking for a refreshing read, should pick up Sam Savage’s "Firmin."

Shelly Barclay

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