Bewilderment by Michael Onofrey


Review by g emil reutter

Life as they say has many twists and turns. It seems no matter how one moves on from their roots there is always a pull to return. In many instances it is the health of a parent. Michael Onofrey explores this and much more in his novel Bewilderment. A young man who disconnects from his past, the main character Wade Ricky explores the world and more during his thirty years away from his hometown of Los Angeles. A loner by nature, Ricky travels the Indian continent, engages in the surreal world of drugs and voyeurism, works as an assistant to a British expat. Yet in his mind Ricky is always alone.

The first chapter defines the main character, Wade Rickey. He is awkward in the social setting of a Christmas party upon his return home to care for his mother. Rickey checks out the house, views from each room where the party is held. He observes people at a distance, doesn’t socialize for fear he may not remember some of the people at the party after his years away. Rickey listens in on conversations, yet never engages. He leaves his mother sitting in a hard chair, eating her Christmas meal as he walks about, listens and watches others as if he watching a television show. Rickey the loner, awkward, ready to leave when he can.

The chapters alternate between Rickey’s present and his past. This method used by Onofrey brings the reader into the full life of Rickey, allows the author to engage in full character development, even of minor characters in the novel.  The pace of Bewilderment after the first chapter is brisk.

Onofrey is an expert at character development. He brings us the complicated main character Wade Ricky, the sensual German, Herta,  who plays on Ricky’s needs and his awkwardness, the blind British expat for whom he works for two years. There is the complexities of his return home to care for his dying mother and his re-connection with America. Ricky enters into a relationship with a grieving mother who is an artist, yet, Ricky cannot escape his need for solitude.

Onofrey explores reality and self-image and how the two don’t always correspond. Bewilderment is a compelling novel written in beautiful prose and at times reveals the wit of Onofrey. He captures the undying experience and adventures of youth. Rickey, a man who chooses to be a loner burdened with the sudden revelation of how time slips away in this life.


You can find the book here:


g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter




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