This goes up on my list of indie favorites along with The Sea of Tranquility, The Opportunist, April and Oliver and True Love Story. I have been reading four books a week in anticipation for a book that will make me feel like this one did. All throughout my work shift today, I kept running off in a cupboard or to the toilets to steal snippets from my kindle.
The story spans through Isabella's life from the age of seven until the age of about thirty seven. The number seven is also significant to the years spent in the painful relationship and coming of age journey spent with her first love, Jesse. The relationship grows from a normal romance but as the years elapse, develops into something all consuming. Jesse becomes possessive and controlling. As soon as I seen these signs of his character I thought "Great, so he's one of those guys," whilst rolling my eyes. He reminded me of my friend's boyfriend- Her bf didn't let her go to parties wearing a skirt or dress, didn't let her go anywhere where there'd be boys (unless he "accompanied" her), made her cancel her holiday to Italy with her grandmother, and then made her quit all of her friends, including myself.
Crazy right? That's what I thought until I read the chapters covering Isabella's college days. Jesse is something else. His jealousy, possessiveness and the power which comes with his popularity, make him become completely demanding and agonizingly controlling. Isa is naive, wants to please her boyfriend and lives to satisfy his every last whim, even if it means isolating herself from society to please him.
I loved Jesse, I hated Jesse, I hated Jesse, and then I learnt to love him again, but mostly through sympathy.
As Isabel wills to move on, things get complicated when she becomes intimate and eventually falls in love with Alex. It is not a love triangle in the sense that it is an ongoing affair or fling, but things get extremely nostalgic and simply sad for lack of better word.
I loved this sentence: "Jesse was the hot flame that torched my heart, while Alex is the ever-glowing coal the keeps the fire burning, steady and unwavering.
I forgot to mention how relieved I was to read a touching love story with characters involved who weren't hounded by a dark mysterious past or scarring hidden secrets or any of those ridiculous and overly popular issues.
Now if you hate Wuthering Heights, don't kill me for saying this but (forgetting Bronte's gothicness), Isa and Jesse resemble Heathcliff and Cathy to a T, like a modern day American version of them.
The writing is simple but effective and conveys so much emotion. It is preened and polished and structured to perfection. There is no sickly overload of soppy romantic scenes; those make me want to stick my finger down my throat.
I wasn't blown away by delicately detailed or abstract prose; I was blown away by the utter gut wrenching turmoil. Everything is spaced out and angsty and realistic to the nature of real people. The timescale of the story and reading from Isabella's perspective is like reading an autobiography of her life.
I don't know what to say about the ending and I'm not going to give much away. All I will say is that I'm glad that Christine didn't take the obvious and easy route to please her readers; to do this, she didn't need to. It gives the perfect closure. I'm sure this is one book that I'll definitely re-read at some point during my gap year.
I am about to be soppy here, but Katie Waissel's song 'I'm Fine' reminded me of this story and I feel that the lyrics reflect the relationship between Jesse and Isabella. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRR1jg...
I also listened to John Newman's 'Love Me Again' once or twice while reading this: