Despite being on a non-fiction reading kick as of late (no, I don't know why either), this book caught my eye when I was wandering a bookstore (people do this, right? Just wander in bookstores. Right?), so I added it to my hold list at the library and pretty much forgot about it until it dropped into my reading list.
Problem was, when I actually started reading the book, I didn't know why I had added this book to my reading list. Then, when I read the book details, the summary and one-line reviews of the book, I was annoyed that they all commented about the O'Henry style plot twists (which, actually, I adore, but not if I see them coming). Don't tell me about the plot twists, because then I'll be all suspect of everything in the book.
Which is why I was surprised when the first one dropped. I was stunned, and went back to reread the part before and after several times. And, thought, "How clever!" And then the book kept going, and, "Oh. Hello."
I can't say I particularly liked the fundamental motivation of the plot, it struck a lot too close to home for me to feel comfortable, but the tale is told delightfully well and the ending, okay, I'm REALLY glad I didn't skip to the end for this one.
The book is a new-release, which is somewhat odd for me to have read, as I tend to read books 1-2 years old, if not 60 years old or more, but this one is a quick, totally O'Henry twist, entertaining book to read.
It wasn’t difficult to dodge questions once you learned the tricks. When someone asked about your childhood, you told them about the tree house your father built for you, and your black cat that thought he was a dog and would sit up and beg for a treat. If college came up, you focused on the football team’s undefeated season and your part-time job at a campus restaurant, where you once started a small fire while making toast and cleared the dining area. Tell colorful, drawn-out stories that deflect attention from the fact that you aren’t actually sharing anything. Avoid specifics that will separate you from the crowd. Be vague about the year you graduated. Lie, but only when completely necessary.
Something about their fearlessness, the way her coworkers exposed their hearts and chased their dreams despite the rejection they continually suffered, spoke to a part of Nellie that had been switched off during her last year in Florida. They were like children in that respect, Nellie realized—they possessed an undaunted optimism. A sense that the world and its possibilities lay open to them.
I was happy, I think, but I wonder now if my memory is playing tricks on me. If it is giving me the gift of an illusion. We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that shoe, or the woman it belonged to. She must have gotten up that morning, gotten dressed, and stepped out of a window into the air. I searched the newspapers the following day, but there was only a tiny mention of the incident. I never knew what had made her commit such a desperate act—if she’d been planning it, or if something inside her had suddenly snapped. I think I’ve figured out the answer, all these years later: It was both.
“Lovey, you seem so concerned by what he thinks all the time.”
But instead of racing toward my future, I began making plans to run away from my past.
In my marriage, there were three truths, three alternate and sometimes competing realities. There was Richard’s truth. There was my truth. And there was the actual truth, which is always the most elusive to recognize. This could be the case in every relationship, that we think we’ve entered into a union with another person when, in fact, we’ve formed a triangle with one point anchored by a silent but all-seeing judge, the arbiter of reality.
I’d told myself I’d been partly to blame for Richard’s violence.