Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 13 - A fictional book

Ha, so I probably should have read what today's topic was before I wrote my whole book report yesterday. Fortunately for you, I finished another book over the weekend! Yay!

Finishing Touches by Deanna Kizis is one of those books that's written in a light way, but it's actually got some pretty depressing material. Synopsis: Wallflower-type Jess loses her best friend Cecile in a car accident, and after a few months of shared grief, she falls into a relationship with Cecile's widower. This puts a strain on the relationships the two have with their mutual friends (imagine that!) and yet, the breath of emotions felt by Jess in the months after losing Cecile allow her to come into her own as a strong, independent woman by the end of the book. Blah, blah, blah.

Ok. So. This is potentially one of those books that tricks you into thinking it's shallow, for a few reasons. 1) There is no part of the storyline that's not fairly rote or predictable. 2) The characters are stock types that we've definitely seen throughout the lit world, and particularly in chick-lit: there's the dazzling blonde best friend who is practically perfect in every way, the smart and sarcastic but still drop-dead gorgeous in a *different* way other best friend, the "perfect" guy, the asshole/bitch boss, not to mention the "rather average" unreliable narrator who lacks self-confidence. 3) There's kind of a shlocky romance. 4) The protagonist undergoes a transformation fueled by growing self-actualization.

I could continue, but I won't, because these all distract from the main point I'm trying to make, which is that actually it's a pretty well-written story that still has the capacity to make you feel something. I genuinely believed Jess' turmoil and depression, and her complete lack of any idea of how to deal with life after losing her best friend. I believed that she felt conflicted when she entered her relationship with dead-best-friend's husband. Even more, even though I couldn't relate to why it was happening to her, I could definitely relate to the theme of having to navigate changing relationships with your friends. Throughout my young life I've several times struggled with the (commonly felt, I'm sure) pressure to adapt to all of my friends and I heading in different directions in our lives, and feeling the need to reconcile those different directions and the changes they can inspire in us with the friends that I knew back before we all headed down these different paths. It shouldn't be hard to do, and yet it is, and I feel like since a lot of people can relate to that sentiment, probably a surprising number of people could relate to that exploration of changing friendships in this book.

So that's all I have to say about it, really. Despite some dark content, there's a happy ending, and it's punctuated with lightness and jokes throughout, so it definitely makes good beach or weekend reading.

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