Drive-by Saviours
Drive-by Saviours

Drive-by Saviours

by Chris Benjamin

Paperback

$19.95
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781552663691
Publisher: Brunswick Books
Publication date: 09/01/2010
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

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Drive-by Saviours 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
riikkat on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Drive-by Saviours tells the story of Bumi, an Indonesian man who ends up as an illegal immigrant to Canada and Mark, a social worker in Toronto. The synopsis is explained elsewhere, so I'll not go to that in too much detail.This was my first Early Reviewers book and I was very excited to read it. I didn't have a very clear picture of what this book was actually about and the back cover texts didn't really help that much either. I thought the story started with a bang though. The description of the early years of Bumi were interesting and on occasion the text was even funny. I also loved the chapter headers, which I thought were ingenious. I didn't mind Mark that much either.The story was very interesting as long as it dealt with Bumi's childhood and school years. Unfortunately, I felt like it went downhill from there. Now, don't get me wrong, I thought the writing was very beautiful throughout the book, but just like Teresa40 said, toward the middle the story just got less interesting and never really picked up again.I think the book would have benefited from slightly heavier editing. I think the story would have carried a lot better from start to finish if it were a little shorter and more concise. I felt like the same issues were brought up over and over again and there were some tangents to the story that weren't all that necessary when considering the big picture.All in all, I think the book was a very decent first novel. It brings out important issues and the writing is beautiful.
pokarekareana on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Bumi lives in Indonesia. Mark lives in Canada. Bumi makes belts for a living. Mark is a social worker. The one thing they seem to have in common is a turbulent upbringing and uncomfortable relations with their families early in life. Their worlds seem far removed from each other, but they end up inextricably linked.I came by this book entirely by chance, and the first time I tried to read it, it didn¿t stick at all. I struggled through the first fifty pages in December, and then just gave up. It didn¿t gel well with my situation at the time, as a holidaymaker on a sunny windswept island in the Atlantic, and so I decided it certainly isn¿t a light holiday read. Having now reached the end, I¿m not completely sure that it is my kind of book at all. The characters are a funny bunch. The Canadians mainly annoyed me; Mark is entirely defined by his job and seems to be quite flat beyond that, despite being the only character who is written in the first person, and his girlfriend Sarah is portrayed as, shock horror, both beautiful and intelligent ¿ how can this be?! Towards the end, I thought Sarah turned into a clichéd neurotic female figure and I think that cemented my annoyance at the whole Toronto section. At the start, I found the Indonesian sections somewhat impenetrable ¿ there is a lot of unnecessary wittering about Bumi¿s childhood that, although interesting and well-written, is just too long ¿ but once Bumi hit adulthood, he became the most interesting figure in the book, and stayed that way throughout.This is an excellent example of a book with two alternating foci; to begin with, the two worlds of Mark and Bumi seem so far removed from each other that I wondered how Chris Benjamin would ever convincingly bring them together, but the shift onto a collision course is deliciously instantaneous. This is probably the one feature of the book that I will remember long after the wanderlust and the intermittent boredom and frustration have long been forgotten. So, is this a positive review, or a negative one? I¿m still undecided. I ploughed through the second reading in a couple of days but I held on until the end out of a sense of obligation because I knew I had to review it for the ER programme, rather than out of any genuine interest. I was rewarded, to some extent, for my perseverance, but I think it will end up in the charity shop before long.
sanddancer on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The book begins on a small Indonesian island with the birth of Bumi, a boy who seems to be remarkably intelligent from an early age, learning to speak very quickly and as a small child suggesting ways for the local fishermen to improve their techniques. His childhood is tough, with him first at the mercy of his violent father, then sent away to school as part of a Government education programme. Alternating with these chapters, are chapters from the point of view of Mark, a failed social worker in Toronto, who is bored with his work and falling out of love with his girlfriend. Although worlds apart, fortunes will conspire to bring these two characters together and inevitably this will have a profound effect on both their lives.I enjoyed the early chapters about Bumi's life, which at first almost seemed to have a magical realism quality, but then turned much darker, mixing the political history of the country with Bumi's story. And although less interesting, I didn't mind the parts about Mark's life, but for me, the book actually went downhill when the two characters came together. In these parts, we lost the narrative about Bumi and the whole thing was told from Mark's point of view, whereupon he became deeply irritating, At times the book feels like the author has a lot of social injustice issues that they want to discuss and they are all piled into the book, so that the plot feels like just an excuse to discuss these issues. Also, a key point of the plot hinges on an illness (I won't say what here) and we are expected to believe that Mark, an educated man who works with healthcare professionals, has never heard of it.Overall, it was an interesting subject matter, but it would have been better if the focus had stayed with Bumi more and the author had been a bit less obvious with agenda.
HWest on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Drive-By Saviours is a novel about two men from seemingly separate worlds who find themselves thrown together in an experiment called globalization. The book seamlessly carries us through several countries and continents, through hopes of helping, mental health and the dreary drudgery of paperpushing. The novel tells a tale of Bumi and Mark, the latter in Toronto and the former in Indonesia, their own tragedies and loves, and pulls them together when they meet on a crowded city bus.Drive-By Saviours is a unique novel, one that I haven't seen in a while, that handles an immigration story with poise and balance. Though seemingly fantastical at times, real life immigrant stories can be far more peculiar and complex. Drive-By Saviours allows for equal treatment of the newcomer and the native and shows how these roles can be easily reversed. The book pushes the reader to question their assumptions about helping and the power to do so. Where the character of Bumi can be fascinating because of its seeming exoticism, many readers will find Mark's uncertainty, vanity and self-indulgence an important (and potentially uncomfortable) mirror on mainstream Canadian culture. Goodwill, the book posits, isn't always good and isn't always what it seems.A good read for those who like a good story and for those who like to feel themselves pushed into thinking about the world in new ways. Yes, the book has political undertones, but arguably all do and some of the best are overt in their desire to shine a light on a social problem and to draw the reader in. Drive-By Saviours manages this well and with delicate finesse.
canread on LibraryThing 7 months ago
An engrossing read from the start, featuring "two men of the world", one a Canadian social worker and the other an Indonesian fisherboy/factory worker who is forced to flee to Canada and become an illegal restaurant worker. I love immigrant stories, and this one was strong, with a page-turning plot (featuring political radicals under a dictatorship, psychological and physical torture, an overseas caper with the Chinese mob, and families torn apart by immigration itself) and gorgeous writing.
teresa1953 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is an interesting,well researched debut novel which took me a while to "get into". Halfway through the book, I found myself caring very much about Bumi, the Indonesian refugee who has OCD. The other main character Mark, is a social worker struggling with his work and the relationshipwith his partner and family members.These two men's lives cross in Toronto and Mark takes Bumi "under his wing." As an iilegal, Bumi, is unable to avail himself of regular medical care, so Mark finds help for him via his various contacts. It is this part of the novel that is so endearing, as Bumi tries to come to terms with his condition and it's probable causes.It is by no means perfect, but "Drive-by-Saviours" is a good first novel and the writing itself is excellent.
lkernagh on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This story is about two imperfect individuals raised worlds apart from one another under different social-economic-political systems that meet in in one of Canada's largest multicultural communities, the city of Toronto. Mark is a social worker, one that does a better job at writing financial grant reports than providing assistance and guidance to immigrants assigned to him. His social life isn't much better. It takes the great North American power black out of 2003 for Mark to start to question his goals, objectives and his overall purpose in life. Bumi is a by-product of World Bank funding that saw Indonesia, under General Suharto and his military regime, remove children from their rural and island families, with no further family contact allowed, and sent to residential schools to learn how to read and write, only to be cut loose at the end of their education into an economy with few to no job prospects, a police force that was virtually omnipotent and harsh punishment for any that read banned books or expressed non-politically approved ideals.To find out how these two individuals chance to meet and develop a friendship, you will have to read the book. I found the story slow moving at first as Benjamin was establishing his characters. It wasn't until about 200 pages in that the story, for me, really formed cohesion and focus. The story is intertwined with social commentary of the plight of immigrant workers as well as nations of indigenous people struggling to survive under repressive regimes, but there is also warmth and hope in the story that carries it through. I found the examination of obsessive-compulsive disorder behaviors and possible behavior therapy treatments very interesting reading and helped convey in a lot of ways just how controlling OCD can be for someone that is afflicted with this genetic disorder. Benjamin has created realistic characters and manages to deal with weighty, worldly issues without bogging the story down.Overall, a good debut novel with soul, substance and hope.This book was courtesy of the LT Early Reviewer's program.
SmithSJ01 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I really struggled with this book and wouldn't recommend it. I found Bumi's story a chore to read but it did become easier to follow once Bumi met Mark. The book is too long and wordy for the great story I thought it would be. I'm really pleased I received this via Library Thing Early Reviewer as I would have actually bought this book based on the blurb.
SheReadsNovels on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Drive-By Saviours, the debut novel by Canadian author Chris Benjamin, tells the story of two men from very different backgrounds who meet one day on the subway in Toronto and form a friendship that changes both of their lives forever. One of these men is Bumi, an illegal immigrant from Indonesia, on the run from his troubled past. The other is Mark, a Canadian social worker who is growing increasingly disillusioned with his job. As they get to know each other, Mark learns that Bumi is suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and decides to try to help him get the treatment he needs ¿ and at the same time discovers that this new friendship could have important consequences for his own future.The novel moves back and forth between Indonesia and Canada, with alternating chapters being told from first Bumi¿s perspective, then Mark¿s. Bumi¿s chapters are in chronological order, whereas Mark¿s are in the form of flashbacks and anecdotes. This might sound like a confusing structure, but the author handles the transitions very well and the story flows nicely.This wasn¿t a bad book by any means, but overall it didn¿t quite work for me. Although I enjoyed the first half of the book, there were a few occasions during the second half where I started to lose interest in the story. And while I thought Bumi was a fascinating and sympathetic character, I felt less engaged with the chapters narrated by Mark. Maybe I just wasn¿t the right reader for this book as most other reviews seem to be very positive.However, there were some things I really liked about this book. First of all, I enjoyed the chapters set in Indonesia which described Bumi¿s childhood on a small fishing island and the difficulties he experienced when he was sent to school in the city of Makassar as part of a government experiment. I know very little about Indonesia so it was nice to have the opportunity to learn something about the history, politics and culture of the country. I also found the portrayal of Bumi¿s OCD very interesting to read about. The author spent a lot of time describing how Bumi¿s obsessions originated and spiralled out of control, what the symptoms were, and how people reacted to his behaviour in a community where most people were uneducated and had a limited understanding of mental illness.A lot of other interesting issues are touched on, including families being separated by immigration, the effects of tourism and progress on an island community, and life in Indonesia under President Suharto¿s regime. But at the centre of the novel is the idea that two people who have grown up thousands of miles apart can discover a number of parallels in their lives and form a bond that transcends their cultural and personal differences.
LynnB on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is the story of Mark, a social worker living in Toronto. Although he has a good job and a beautiful girlfriend who loves him, he is vaguely dissatisfied with his life. This is the story of Bumi, who grew up in Indonesia. Being suspected of murder, he flees for his life and seeks asylum in Canada. And, as it says on the back cover, "In a crowded world, a single connection could change everything."This novel alternates the stories of Bumi and Mark until they meet one day on a crowded bus in Toronto. The author has done an excellent job of developing these two main characters and how their social environments have shaped their lives. It is interesting that Mark, who "has it all" is less optimistic and motivated than Bumi who has been forced to leave behind his family and to work long hours to repay a debt to people smugglers. The story also touches on mental illness; specifically, obsessive-compulsive disorder and how people who suffer from this condition are often misjudged by others; even those closest to them. And, we have the universal -- in a good way -- themes of family, love, betrayal and redemption. The author has managed to treat several themes well through his main characters. In this way, the story is complex and multilayered which gives it a depth far beyond the already-rich stories of Mark and Bumi, their contrasting lives and very different origins. Well done!
urbanchik on LibraryThing 7 months ago
While most reviewers here are drawn to Bumi, it was Mark who resonated with me most. As an employee in an urban hospital with diverse clients I really identified with his frustration at the bureaucracy that made it hard to help even when help seemed needed. It's a very smart book with an engrossing story. Definitely stays with you and makes you think.
DubaiReader on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Indonesia, Canada and OCD.This was a book with an interesting premise but almost too much content. I got a bit bogged down with the details and it has taken me over a week to read it.I liked the characters - Mark, buried under bureaucracy in a Toronto psychiatric hospital and Bumi, an Indonesian boy who grows to manhood amongst poverty and deprivation on an isolated island and then a mainland Indonesian city.After a huge amount of struggle and hardship, Bumi meets Mark in Toronto and events become rather easier to follow as the two stories are no longer in alternating chapters.At first the OCD tendancies that Bumi has, seemed almost unnecessary to the story but as the narrative developed they became a fascinating thread that suggested to me that the author may have first hand experience of the subject.Benjamin also covers a number of other pertinent topics - the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, escape of illegal immigrants into Canada and the treatment of immigrant workers there.Sadly, I wasn't left feeling satisfied by the ending, yet again Bumi seemed short changed, but I will say no more.I would read this author again as I enjoy his topics but hopefully, next time, he will take pity on the reader and resist the temptation to put absolutely everything in.
arkgirl1 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This novel had some intriguing and promising ideas with some thought provoking points that would be great to develop and explore in a book group. The stories of Bumi and Mark are told through alternating chapters but their meeting is inevitable and impacts on both their lives. Bumi's story is told from childhood and it is evident early on that he is a bright but disturbed young man who struggles with: a domineering father, whose respect he craves; being sent to a school that limits rather than broadens his horizons; and some crippling OCD habits that make people distrust him. Meanwhile we meet Mark in Toronto as an adult social worker frustratingly being edged out of face to face work in order to write proposals and seek funding. Mark is also in a relationship that appears to be at a turning point and has relationships to mend from his past. Mark's story has some flashback sections but focuses much more on his adult self. When Bumi is forced to flee for his own safety he ends up in Toronto and there they have an accidental meeting on public transport. As Mark finds out about Bumi's life he grows and learns about his own; Benjamin cleverly ties in themes and relationships but I feel it loses its way in the middle thrid of the book. The OCD condition is explored in depth through Bumi and also we see the impact on a female character born and brought up in North America - the discomfort it causes in both communities is sensitively dealt with and I feel this area has the most resonance for me. I find Bumi easier to warm to as a character but although less likeable Mark is certainly very credible. This has much to interest and intrigue but it did have some clunky parts that meant it wasn't a top read for me.
pammiec on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Chris Benjamin's "Drive-By Saviours" takes us on a voyage of lives that most of us would not come across and yet, can relate to on our basic humanness. The novel has substantial meaning without being moralistic and leaves one being more curious and compassionate about other's worlds than before.