Book Review: No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

Book Review: No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an advance digital copy of this novel from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“No two persons ever read the same book or saw the same pictures”
The Writings of Madame Swetchine, 1860

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I’ve read plenty of books that made my heart ache, but very few that made my heart feel seen. There is something remarkably soothing about No Two Persons, this quiet novel told in vignettes. From beginning to end, one thought rang in me, heart, mind, and soul: “Ah. There you are.” I can’t articulate how it made me feel. The feeling it inspired isn’t big or showy, but it’s a feeling I’ve been seeking my entire life. Whatever that feeling may be, I’m incredibly thankful to have experienced it. And I hope other readers will have the same healing, soothing, quiet experience of being seen by what you love.

“I think each story has its own life. In the beginning, it lives in the writer’s mind, and it grows and changes while it’s there. Changes the writer, too, I’d bet… At some point it’s written down, and that’s the book readers hold in their hands. But the story isn’t done, because it goes on the live in the readers’ heads, in a way that’s particular to each of them. We’re all caretakers of the stories, Alice. Writers are just the lucky ones that get to know them first.”

The storytelling here is exceptional, and feels very unique. We follow a different person in each chapter, who are only bound together by their experience with a particular book, Theo, penned by the first character we meet. I would have bought this entire book for that first section alone, which said some brilliant things about stories and storytelling. But each perspective with engaging and insightful, and I was blown away by how brilliantly drawn and lifelike I found each of these individuals. And even though these characters are all radically different in every way, there began to be surprising connections between them further into the book. The story is a tapestry, tying the characters together in interesting, sometimes cyclical ways. Not only are there shared experiences between these characters and the titular character of the book that binds them, but some of them actually impact the story of another in small, unexpected, meaningful ways.

“Sometimes what she wrote felt more real than truth. But maybe that’s what writing was, in the end—a way to get to the bedrock, the oxygen. To search out the possible.”

I love books that make me feel, and this book definitely made me feel things. I wanted nothing more than to reach into the book and pull out my own copy of Theo, to see how the story that was so impactful for these characters might also impact me. I also love how the title comes into play, how no two of these characters experience Theo the same way or draw the same things from its pages. But not one of them is left unchanged by it.

“Wandering is a gift given only to the lost.”

Because wasn’t that what art was all about, in the end? Mentally shoplifting your way through the world around you, the thoughts inside you? Looking for the thing that makes it all click. Makes it all start. Makes it all worthwhile and whole and good again.
That could take a while. You might have to wander, but that didn’t mean you were lost.”

This is exactly what I’m always subconsciously hoping to find whenever I pick up a book about books. No Two Persons is all about the power of story to reveal and connect and heal, and how that journey can be radically different for each person who picks up the same book. And that emphasis on the importance of story, particular this one specific story, is the binding element of the entire work. Some books proclaim themselves to be a “love letter to book lovers” or an “ode to the power of story,” but they almost without fail forsake that promise as the plot takes over. Not so with No Two Persons. The book within this book is the plot, and nothing ever usurps it. Because it’s a quiet, thoughtful, meditative work, I don’t know that it will sing into the soul of every reader as it did mine. But that’s the entire point of the story here. No two persons ever read the same book in the same way. I’m just incredibly thankful to have experienced it in the way that I did. It’s my favorite book I’ve read all year.

You can order this book from Blackwell’s.

View all my reviews

2 thoughts on “Book Review: No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

  1. Thank you for posting this. As someone who reads primarily fantasy, I wouldn’t have heard about this book if not for your review. I’m really enjoying the book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.