I’m not going to write a review for this book. I can’t. It’s too close, too personal for me. The protagonist Cath seems like a younger version of myself. We have so much in common, it’s scary. I have never before encountered such a clone of myself in fiction.
We both are writers and we both are readers. The only places where we feel alive are inside stories: ours or the ones we love. We both hide our passions, loners living inside our heads, hating parties, hating crowds, disliking change or any deviation from routine. We both feel like freaks everywhere: in class, in college, with neighbors and coworkers.
We are so different from everyone around us that our only kindred souls seem to be found on the internet. And we both cannot compromise: neither in our relationships nor in our writing. Only the genuine articles work for us both, but unlike Cath, I know how it will end for her if she doesn’t learn to compromise – badly.
I feel sorry for her. My heart aches for this fictional girl as if she was my twin. Learn to compromise, Cath, I want to tell her. Our world doesn’t approve of unrelieved integrity. Teach yourself to be normal. Pretend if you have to. Otherwise, life will squash you. You’re still young. You have time. Don’t be like me. Be like everyone else.
I cried when I read about Cath because half the times, she thought my thoughts and spoke my words. In the beginning of the book, during Cath’s first fiction writing class in college, the professor asks her students: “Why do you write fiction?”
The answers pour out from every corner of the class: “To express ourselves. To explore new worlds. To set ourselves free. To share something true.”
Cath is painfully shy (like me). She doesn’t speak in class, but the answers are there, in her head and on the page: “To be somewhere else. To get free of myself. To disappear.”
That’s why I write fiction too. I escape from my life through my fiction. I live like someone else in my stories: someone braver and smarter than me, kinder and luckier. Someone more exotic or more beautiful. Someone whose hope is alive and she is gutsy enough to fight for what she wants. Someone I’m not.
There are only two differences between us, personality-wise (aside from her being eighteen and a fictional character and me being almost 60 and a real person). First: Cath writes fanfiction, and I have never written it. Never even been a fan of anything to such a degree. Second: Cath has readers. Her fanfiction gets thousands of hits per post. And I... Well, who is counting?
Of course I liked Cath. I loved Cath. I couldn’t stop reading about her, couldn’t close her book. Sometimes, I felt like I was her, like with her, I’ve got a second chance at life. If she could make it, maybe I can too. A little bit. Divided by a reality coefficient, minus the age factor.
That’s why this book made such an impression on me. That and the quality of writing: it’s simply superb.
I usually post my reviews here and on GR but I’m not going to post this on GR. It’s too intimate, so I’ll just rate the book there. But this site – I feel freer here, almost able to open up, almost myself. Almost like writing fiction. I guess for me, BL is somewhat like a fanfiction site – for the fans of reading. Here, people might understand. I hope.