I admit I am not quite finished with this book yet, about 20 pages to go, but so far it has been one of the most entrancing, entertaining, beautiful and intelligent stories I have read in years. I picked up a more recent Winslow book first, one with Boone the surf-dude PI, and liked it for its great characters, witty dialogue and suspenseful mystery - and that's what I classified it as, a great mystery that put him in my top tier of mystery writers (and I have read a lot).
But this book reads more like a piece of classic literature, rivaling and even surpassing much of what I read back in college as an English lit major. Rather than short, choppy, action-packed chapters, each chapter in this book draws you deeper into the adventure of the young and naive yet also courageous and competent main character. The story's characters are real and personal, funny and unique, yet also metaphoric, delving into the complex dynamics of political/spiritual ideologies through individual experience, and painting a picture of a world that could be while also diagnosing the illness of the very real world we do live in. If I were a high school teacher or college professor, I would have my students read this book. A hidden gem. I feel very lucky to have found it.