337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.
337 is a beautifully written story about a man, Samuel, whose mother disappeared one day when he was only a teenager. We begin the story with a scene from that day. Fast forward 19 years and Samuel is a grown man, working a fairly ordinary, average job when his dad gets in touch to say his grandma, who he lost touch with a long time ago, is dying in her nursing home.
Samuel goes to visit her, and decides that this might be the last chance to learn more about his mother’s mysterious disappearance all those years ago. From then on we follow him as he meets up with his younger brother and reconnects with his grandmother, all the time feeling a whole mixure of thoughts and feelings as he revisits moments from his life and tries to work out how this may have had a bearing on his mother’s disappearance.
I really felt like we were inside Sam’s head during this novel, hearing his doubts, worries and anxieties. M Jonathan Lee’s books often address mental health and 337 does this brilliantly, addressing the mental health of both Samuel and those around him: his brother, grandma, father and – all those years ago – his mother. The far reaching effects of domestic abuse also plays a significant part in this plot. Throughout the novel I really wanted to find the answer to what really happened, and this kept me turning the pages – I finished 337 in record time!
I liked the fact that nothing is as it seems. I was constantly on the lookout for details that might seem unimportant but, all of a sudden, could really change things. Even with the seemingly smaller or less significant storylines – such as Samuel’s money going missing at the care home – we find out that things aren’t quite as we, and Samuel, thought. Whilst offering up surprises, the book also manages to avoid feeling overdramatic, which I loved.
I have yet to properly ‘figured out’ some elements of this book, and exactly why they were included. I do of course have my (probably incorrect) theories… That’s another reason to enjoy this book: it really gets you thinking, and considering, and once you finish it you’ll no doubt want to read it again!