Sunday, October 22, 2017

“What the Hell Did I Just Read” by David Wong – The Unreliable Narrators

Into David Wong's Absurdity

David Wong is a writer that doesn't need much of an introduction for those who are into horror comedies. His John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders have catapulted him into relative stardom, demonstrating his capability of bringing something original and hilarious to the genre. Perhaps without really wanting to, Wong created one of the most memorable and likeable trios in recent memory with Dave, John and Amy; a band of arguable losers and definite misfits who seem to be drawn to circumstances as strange as they are themselves. Reluctantly, they've saved their worthless little town of [Undisclosed] on more than one occasion, battling threats that seem much more ridiculous and nonsensical than actually deadly (despite it being the case). With the third book in the series, What the Hell Did I Just Read, Wong returns to our three beloved stooges and has them recount a rather unbelievable story.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

“The Idea of You” by Amanda Prowse – The Loss of Motherhood

Amanda Prowse Explores the Mother

Being a parent is one of those aspirations that transcends race, gender, culture, nationality and whatever else you may have. It's a biological, cultural and psychological yearning that governs the grand majority of us, to the point where many people don't even need to have a debate with themselves as to whether or not they want children. Unfortunately, nature and genetics are cruel and unforgiving, making it extremely challenging, if not impossible for certain people to conceive. This painful yearning for a child that never comes is one known to far too many people, and it serves as the central theme for Amanda Prowse's emotional and captivating novel, The Idea of You.

As the story opens we are presented with Lucy Carpenter, a woman who is about to turn forty, is pregnant and has a new husband, Jonah. She has always had problems maintaining a pregnancy, and feels this is indeed her last chance to bring into this world a child of her own. Life feels quite hopefully, if not idyllic to a certain extent, until the day that Jonah's teenage step daughter, Camille, comes over to stay with them. Her arrival only serves to complicate things within the household, straining the marriage between Lucy and Jonah as the former is unable to build a bridge between herself and Camille... not to mention that she remembers all she cannot have when looking at the young girl. Soon, Lucy's life takes a turn for the worst and it all begins to tear apart at the seams, and she begins to wonder if there is actually any salvation in sight, whether it will be possible for her to have the family she always wanted.

The Strife of Infertility

To begin with, I'd like to say that the subject matter this book deals with is quite dark and heavy, depicting a lifelong tragedy that many people are sadly familiar with. The unfulfilled desire to have a child is a powerful force that can shape someone's life, and that's an idea which I believe Prowse manages to communicate with remarkable skill and precision. Everything that Lucy feels in regards to her inability to conceive is explained in great detail, bringing us so close to the character that we can practically hold her hand. While it might be a novel, the reality of her situation makes it feel as though we're reading a biography.

Some of the most touching parts of the book in my opinion were the monologues from Lucy to her unborn child that she is carrying. There is just something truly touching, gentle and pure in the way she addresses it and how she uses it as the scope through which she examines her life before and after. We are also given some curious insights as to how the whole situation affects Lucy's household, how it shapes their hopes and dreams for the future and becomes their main point of focus. All in all, I'm inclined to believe that Prowse's depiction as to the psychological effects of a fertility problem (whichever guise it may come under) is true-to-life and comes from either research or personal experience in the matter.

The Family You Didn't Want

Though a decent amount of the book revolves around what we just previously discussed, a big chunk of it is also dedicated to another concept: assembling the family you didn't want. Lucy always had a perfect image of the family she would build for herself, but ultimately things turn out very differently as her husband's sixteen year-old step daughter is the child she ends up with. Watching Lucy's failed attempts at bonding with a teenager who hates her ring very true and are quite inspiring to watch as they develop into something more positive over the course of the story. Through these attempts to put together a cohesive household, even though it isn't the one she dreamt of, Lucy slowly learns what it means to be a parent, what it means to be a mother.

Rest assured, there are some twists in the plot to keep you on your toes, even though most of the book does move along at a slow pace and places a much greater focus on character development. I do admit that overall, the story remains a pretty gloomy and depressive one despite the uplifting moments and qualities it may have. The parts that revolve around the family rather than the unborn child have a few superfluous sections, explorations of the past that don't add much to the story. Nevertheless, those aren't big enough problems to say they ruin the book or anything of the sort.

The Final Verdict

All in all, The Idea of You is not a novel I would recommend to absolutely anyone, being slow in its pace, focusing much more on character development, and dealing with heavy real-world topics that won't resonate with everyone. If those aren't things that bother you and you feel like the subject at hand interests you in one way or another, then I strongly recommend you check the book out; as long as you can get invested in it, the story won't leave you indifferent in the slightest.

Amanda Prowse

Personal site

Amanda Prowse is an English writer hailing from London who is currently best-known for The Food of Love, I Won't Be Home for Christmas and My Husband's Wife . Her books have reached the number one spot on many bestsellers lists, having sold millions of copies around the world.