I almost don’t know where to begin.
Let me explain. If I can.
And I’m tongue-tied (finger-tied). This doesn’t happen often. Uh, almost never.
How do I explain a book that resonated so deeply that I. could. NOT. put. it. down. Honest to god, I read it in three sittings.
Maybe I’ll begin with a question. Hmmm…
My first question might be… and actually, it IS… how does a grown man write from the point-of-view of a teenaged girl?
The second question is actually a part of the first… how did he get inside her (my) head?
This book is – and I’m not sure I’ve ever used this word here – exquisitely written.
But it’s more than that…
IT’S ABSOLUTE TRUTH.
It won’t surprise you to know my mother recommended it. She thought it would be a good addition to this blog, which of course it IS.
But surely, she must have realized that the protagonist (Aza) would reach into the broken pieces that are my (continuing and evolving) health anxiety?
And this is why I made that comment above, about The Fault in our Stars. I didn’t read that book, even though I knew it would be very good from everything I’d heard (and I saw it for $1 at one of my fave thrift stores) because I knew one of the main characters is dying. I didn’t know how and I didn’t mean to find out. Stories that feature health issues are generally something I stay away from, lest I see symptoms of a dreaded disease I may or may not contract now or in the future. And if you know me, and I assume you do by this point, you know I don’t say this lightly or with humor.
This book explains my health anxiety in a way I never could. At times, it is a moment-by-moment account of what goes on in my head. And here I am, forty years older than Aza! So much amazing!
What my mother probably didn’t realize is that there is yet another part of this story that cried out for recognition – at least for me. I know this will matter to some of you who read here because you’ve told me. It is about what it means to be a friend and more, a friend OF someone like Aza (and me!). In short: Not. Easy. We wonder how that will play out in the long run. Oh, we know some of it because we’ve lived it. But it’s like getting a peek into the other person’s brain for some serious truth-telling. Spoiler: They don’t always dump us on our asses. Sometimes they love us as we are. Hope!
And don’t even get me started on the questions woven throughout every page: What do trauma and grief look like? Indeed. It looks like whatever the hell it looks like for each person… always and forever.
This book sat in my Amazon cart for about four months. I was kinda afraid to buy it, to be honest.
I ended up buying it while waiting for a prescription to be filled over the weekend (and OMG, that whole thing is a story for another day!). So, I bought it on Sunday and picked it up the first time on Tuesday and finished it this morning. Like I say, couldn’t put it down.
This book incredible. Breathtaking. Harrowing. Perfect.