In Munching on the Sun, Mark Paul Oleksiw crafts a coming-of-age story of love and redemption that traces a childhood romance into the present day.
Oleksiw opens his novel in a theater, and acting is a central theme of the story. The stage becomes the frame for the narrative when the protagonist, Lukas, is discovered reciting lines. Professor Solterre declares, “Lukas, the night is young. Your audience awaits…I want to hear about the full play.” This “play” is Lukas’ story, and the reader becomes his audience.
Oleksiw describes Lukas’ childhood In Morris Town, and his budding relationship with his next-door neighbor Kara. He simultaneously captures Lukas’ experiences as a final year student in the Faculty of Business at St. Peter’s University when he struggles to find Kara again after becoming estranged from her.
Oleksiw’s narrative structure is tight and the pacing is strong as scenes from Lukas’ youthful romance with Kara and his university days are seamlessly interwoven. The author pulls the reader forward to a heart-warming conclusion in which Lukas’ past and present are reconciled.
However, Oleksiw’s writing can be overwrought. For example, in describing the tension between Lukas and another student, he writes “[t]he failure of the two to interact created two solitudes within the walls of the faculty.”
Additionally, the emotional tenor of the narrative lacks balance. Oleksiw gives certain minor scenes a disproportionate amount of weight, which diminishes the impact of consequential moments. For example, when Lukas prevents a college drinking game from going awry, the author writes, “It was the quiet communication of an alliance to end the warfare.” Although unintended, this description strays into the realm of parody.
Oleksiw crafts an engaging read overall. However, the author’s writing sometimes occludes what would otherwise be an effective story. If he toned-down his language, he would increase his story’s appeal.
Also available as an ebook.