Author: Steve Kistulentz
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Richard MacMurray, a cable news talking head, is paid handsomely to pontificate on the issues of the moment. On New Year’s Day he is scheduled to appear on a prominent Sunday-morning talk show, but as he awaits the broadcast, the program is interrupted by news of a jet airline crash in Dallas killing everyone on board. Richard becomes aware that his sister Mary Beth was aboard the flight, leaving her six-year-old son Gabriel behind. Richard, his only living relative, must take Gabriel in. Panorama dramatizes the ever-widening impact of a single moment over the span of one day–on the victims and their loved ones, but also the plane’s mechanic, the airport janitor, and casual observers such as the teenager in a dingy motel who captures the plane’s final moments on video. Within this novel’s expansive scope, Kistulentz constructs an intimate, page-turning portrait of human loss.
This book was a big let down for me. When I first read the description for Panorama, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these pages. It seemed like something a little different than what I’ve been reading lately and I was hopeful that the potential that the synopsis had would translate into an excellent story. I was sadly mistaken and was left very disappointed in this debut novel.
Panorama tells a story of an accident that stuns a community told from so many perspectives. Often times the use of multiple perspectives can be used to convey chaos or to demonstrate the reach of a particular event, which is what I think the author was going for. However, it created a disjointed narrative with many underdeveloped and unnecessary characters that really impeded on the main plot line of the story. I thought that the true and moving tale got lost among the voices and it was impossible to pull it out. I got a bit sick of things when a 3 page chapter introduced a perspective of a kennel worker taking care of a crash victim’s dog. Stories were left unfinished and loose ends were not tied, making for an unsatisfying read.
This may be harsh, but had I been the editor of this book, I would have slashed the first third of the book and told the author, “ok, how start here on page 150.” The story is not what is portrayed on the jacket or promo copy. It’s slow moving and there is so much extraneous build up at the beginning, for characters that I cared nothing about and had no emotional attachment to. I truly thought this was a story that was going to start out with a terrible tragedy (since that’s what the jacket tells us) and transforms into a heart-wrenching tale about a brother full of regrets after the death of his sister who tries to make amends and fill the boots of a father figure to a boy left orphaned in the wake of unthinkable tragedy. My hopes were dashed. Spoilers: we don’t ever get to see the uncle and nephew reunited in the wake of the devastation. Point 2 for dissatisfaction. The book ends with so many things left unresolved and so much story left untold.
My unrealized expectations have left me sorely disappointed in this title. I would dissuade you from reading. If you liked it better than I did, then let me know in a comment! I’d be thrilled to hear about a more positive reading experience.