REVIEW: Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck

OfMiceAndMenOf Mice and Men is a charming tale of comradery and the human condition, told through the characters of George, an ambitious yet well-meaning man charged with the care of Lennie, the mentally handicapped ‘gentle giant’ who seems to attract trouble wherever he goes. Through a cast of interesting characters, this story explores ambition, worldly distractions, and ultimately the meaning and price of friendship as George and Lennie attempt to navigate everyday life. This tragic and powerful story leaves behind an important message.

 This particular book jumped out at me from across Dymocks as I visited their store last week. I was searching for a new book to read, and this little paperback, with a title that seemed so familiar to me (yet I couldn’t quite place where I had heard it) was the one I knew I had to read next. I eagerly threw myself into this 187 page novella as soon as I got home, and found myself finishing it that very same evening.

This beloved story is deeply ingrained in classic American literature, and – as much as I hate to use this phrase – is indeed a ‘must read’! I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this book, from its perfectly simple method of story telling to the downtrodden, sympathetic characters around which the story revolves. I found myself hanging off of every word as Steinbeck weaves the tale of the two unlikely friends, eventually building the story to a sincere, climactic end.

Written in 1937, it was hard not to draw parallels between this and so many great stories that have come since, presumably taking inspiration from this charming, yet tragic tale. The true sign of this greatness was, for me, the moment in which I closed the final page, and found the lessons learnt from the narrative staying with me long after I had found a home for it in my already crowded bookshelf. I found myself reflecting on the story long into the night, a by-product which I didn’t anticipate when I first began reading.

Set on a working ranch, you gain a small insight into the lives and isolation faced by the working men of America at this point in time. The desolate vacuum of working life is an interesting dynamic played on in this story, with the ease of trading in your dreams for nights of vice and pleasure apparent. I really sympathized with George as he desperately tried to cling to his and Lennie’s dream of one day owning their own ranch, in spite of the temptation and hardships standing in the way. Ultimately, this story is about George and Lennie trying to survive and better their lives, while George must also protect Lennie from a world that seems so overwhelming.

This is a magical book, one I would happily recommend to any person searching for their next great read.

A must read: 4.5/5 stars