Victimhood in the age of modern media: A review of The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

My copy of The Night Swim next to a cup of tea and a pair of fuzzy socks.

I don’t know about you, but I find thrillers and mysteries to be some of the the hardest reviews for me to write. While I generally try to leave out spoilers for any book, I always get anxious that I’m going to accidentally spoil something! And when it comes to this genre, I feel it is vital not to do so, as it can totally ruin the book. So I’ll try to be somewhat vague with this review of The Night Swim as to not ruin anything, but hopefully give you just enough that you’ll decide to pick up this awesome thriller!

Quick Synopsis: Rachel Krall, a famous true-crime podcaster, is in the small town of Neapolis covering a high-profile rape case between the former sheriff’s granddaughter and a the town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for the Olympics. When Rachel finds a series of mysterious letters addressed to her begging for her help in solving a decades-old case in the same town — that of Jenny Stills, who tragically drowned, yet whose sister Hannah is convinced was murdered. The more Rachel asks questions, the more roadblocks she faces, as she realizes these two cases may be more intertwined than formerly thought.

This book had me hooked right from the start. I think my natural curiosity and career in journalism made me really connect with Rachel, who started as a reporter before becoming a podcaster. However, I admire her for her risk taking and willingness to do anything to find the story, since I don’t think I could be that brave in the face of a potential murder like she can!

I also enjoyed how this story moved back and forth between past and present, but in a somewhat unique and nontraditional way. The “past” sections, told from Hannah’s point of view (she’s the sister of Jenny Stills, who Hannah believes was murdered and didn’t just drown) are written in letter form, as Hannah continues to leave messages for Rachel, slowly but surely piecing together the mystery.

Most importantly, I found this novel to be a really interesting observation of how rape and sexual assault victims are treated in the media. In an age after the Me Too era and the devastating results of the Brock Turner case, this story was both a criticism and an analysis of how victims are treated in the media — while they do garner support, they also face a lot of harsh criticism, scrutiny, and judgment. This book really forced me to think, Why are rape victims the only victims that have to prove they’re not lying? Why do they bear the burden of proof? In the age of modern media, I think it both acts as a blessing and a curse for victims.

While I consider most thrillers to just be good, solid, and fun reads, this one was also incredibly thought-provoking, too. I definitely had my guesses as to who did it and was totally wrong, so that was a plus, as well. I definitely can’t believe that this one didn’t make the top five picks for Book of the Month’s Book of the Year finalists!

Who counts as a person? A review of The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Happy pub day to this thrill ride of a novel! I’ve never read a book by Sarah Gailey, so I was so excited when I got approved for their newest book, The Echo Wife. I started getting into the science fiction genre with the past couple of years, and this one just sounded so intriguing. Overall, this book was an incredible thrill ride from start to finish that I could barely put down — I read it in only two sittings!

Quick synopsis: Evelyn, the book’s narrator and an incredibly gifted and celebrated scientist whose career focuses on designing realistic clones, faces a dilemma when her ex-husband’s lover Martine — and the woman he cheated on Evelyn with — reaches out to her in a panic to come help her. When Evelyn arrives at the house, she finds her ex murdered. The catch — Martine is Evelyn’s clone, illegally designed and created by her ex-husband.

It’s a trippy, twisty set up for what becomes a creative, dark, yet delightful marriage between domestic thriller and classic science fiction. I’ve never read anything quite like it, so I was absolutely hooked from page one.

Evelyn and Martine are both not always likable, but I found them to be highly relatable, navigating the struggles of womanhood in its many forms: as a wife, ex, friend, and, in their case, a clone. This story forced me to think about the morality behind this science and what constitutes personhood. Was Martine as much of a person as Evelyn? Or are clones — designed for a specific purpose, whether it’s to be a realistic stand-in to protect a politician or, like Martine, to be the perfect wife — disposable? And like any good sci-fi, I found it both marvelously fictional yet also realistic enough it gave me chills thinking about this scenario happening in a near or not-so-near future.

I don’t want to give anymore away as to ruin any plot points, but if you enjoy science fiction or domestic thrillers, this is certainly a great book to consider. I also think this story resembles domestic thriller so much that this book would make an awesome introduction to readers new or unfamiliar to the sci-fi genre.

This book is officially out today, February 16th. Thank you to NetGalley and TOR for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The queer, feminist Western I didn’t know I needed: A review of Outlawed by Anna North

A photo of Outlawed by Anna North next to a bottle of whiskey.

So in case it isn’t evident already, I tend to be drawn toward books that are dark, intense, satirically funny, mysterious, or pretty much bound to make me an emotional wreck. But I try to pick a book outside of my norm at least once a month, whether that is through tone or topic. In January/early February, I decided to go with Outlawed, as I have never read a book with a Western setting before! This one was a short, fun trip outside my norm that provided a great escape into the wild West, full of adventure. Overall, this book had awesome feminist vibes and positive LGBTQIA+ representation, and I. Am. Here. For. It!!!

Quick synopsis: In a town where barren women are thought to be witches and blamed for everything that goes wrong, Ada finds herself on the run as an outlaw when she fails to provide her husband with a child. A talented doctor, she joins up with the Hole in the Wall gang, a band of other outcasts led by the Kid, their enigmatic and charismatic leader.

This book was overall such a fun-filled ride. I loved Ada’s fighting spirit and appreciated how she had to really battle her own internal struggles of craving both motherhood and acceptance, but also recognizing and wanting to fight her society’s hatred toward barren women and groups experiencing “otherness,” such POC, queer-identifying people, and more. While this setting — “In the year of our Lord, 1894” (pg. 1) — seems so far from today’s time, it definitely helped me recognize the ways our society has advanced and become more accepting, but also the ways we’re often still stuck in the past when it comes to stigmas surrounding motherhood, sexual freedom, and queer identity especially.

Additionally, I loved the wide range of characters, such as the Kid, Lark, Cassie, Agnes, and many more. For a short book that was largely plot-driven and not as focused on character development, I still greatly enjoyed getting to know these characters, their personalities, their triumphs, and their struggles. I wish the book had perhaps dived a bit deeper into who each character is since I tend to gravitate toward character development over plot, but with Ada, Lark, and the Kid in particular, North did a great job building back stories for them that were both tragic yet uplifting and made me just want to totally cheer for them until the very end! It was also awesome to see such a diverse, inclusive cast in terms of sexual and gender identity and race. When I think “Western,” I typically think White and ultra-masculine, so it was cool to see this genre totally flipped on its head in terms of inclusivity.

While I probably won’t pick this book up again, I’ll definitely recommend it to any readers looking for a flat-out fun, high-stakes adventure filled with friendship and the search for acceptance — of others and of oneself. And I’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing how it translates to the small screen with Amy Adams at the helm.

The burden and blessing of memory: A review of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

My dog Addie sleeping on a copy of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Last year, I read Transcendent Kingdom, and it instantly became a favorite of 2020 due to its incredible character development and exploration of tough topics such as religion, racism, addiction, and mental health. So of course I went into Homegoing with HIGH expectations. Through powerful storytelling that discusses the collective power of memory and the meaning of home, I fell in love with this book even more than Transcendent Kingdom and think this one needs to be read by everyone ASAP! It was just that incredible, thought-provoking, heartbreaking, and so much more.

Quick synopsis: Two half sisters in 18th century Ghana — unknown to each other — find themselves on two very different paths: one, the wife of a wealthy Englishman who lives in the Cape Coast Castle, the other imprisoned in the castle’s basement and destined for slavery in the U.S. The book proceeds to tell the parallel storylines of these two half sisters through multiple generations, across continents.

This book’s format is unlike any other I have read before. The first two chapters tell the stories of half sisters Effia and Esi, while chapter three focuses on Effia’s son Quey, and chapter four discusses Esi’s daughter Ness, chapter five is Quey’s son James, chapter six is Ness’s son Kojo, etc., etc. While each chapter reads like a standalone story, it is clear that they both build off of the previous generation’s experience, while paralleling with that of their generational counterpart over the course of eight total generations. This may be a tad confusing to explain and is a bit complicated to read at first, but Gyasi provides readers with a family tree at the start of the book — I had this page dog-eared and flipped back pretty much every chapter to make sure I had my characters straight! It was a huge help. But this complicated, multigenerational story was so worth every word.

What was most incredible about each chapter was how invested I became in the individual character. Each chapter was perhaps 20 or 25 pages in length, yet by the end of each one, it felt like I had known these characters as deeply as if I had read a full-length novel about them. Each chapter often takes place over a number of years and dives deeply into not only the character’s experiences but also their emotions, livelihoods, and innermost thoughts. Each character was so well-developed in such a short amount of space, that I wished I could have had an entire book on each of them! And over the course of these eight generations, I got to the end of this novel feeling as if I had read an entire epic — yet over the course of only 300 pages. The character development and generational storylines felt as expansive as if had a bird’s eye view of this family tree, yet as intimate as if I knew each family member personally.

Most importantly, I loved how the book addresses the role of shared, generational memory. As each half sister’s family line parallels the other’s, it is clear the role of generational memory. Each character carries the weight of the love, trauma, pain, hope, livelihood, and much more of the generation(s) before them. It is a heavy weight, sometimes a burden, other times a blessing. But it is a powerful idea, nonetheless, and an important one.

Additionally, I loved the exploration of what home means. As each generation either builds upon the parents’ or grandparents’ choices or decides to forge a new path for him or herself, home took on many meanings. It made me ponder — is home a place? An idea? The people we call family? Or something greater or far more intangible?

As we begin this wonderful month of celebrating Black History Month, this book reminded me of the importance of reading own voices stories. I am so thankful for own voices writers like Gyasi who are willing to share stories like this one that can help us as readers continue to learn from and empathize with characters whose experiences are different then our own. Just another of the countless reasons I love fiction!

If you haven’t checked Homegoing out, I highly recommend it, as it is short, sure to get you thinking, and full of incredible character development and writing quality from Gyasi. If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below or reach out to me via Instagram.

Secrets that burn: A review of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A photo of Malibu Rising on my iPad, surrounded by green leaves and yellow and pink flowers.

First off, thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. I’m a huge Taylor Jenkins Reid fan, and I requested this title honestly expecting not to hear back or to be denied. When I got the news that I was accepted to check it out early, I might have literally jumped and screamed a bit! Malibu Rising is probably my most anticipated read of 2021, and I loved it so much that I’m sure I’ll have to snag myself a physical copy when it comes out on June 1.

Quick synopsis: It’s 1983, and it’s the day of the Riva siblings’ — Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit’s — notorious end-of-summer party, hosted at Nina’s beautiful cliffside home on the Malibu coast that attracts a wide variety of the rich and famous. But throughout the course of 24 hours (along with many flashbacks), more than a few secrets come to light that have the potential to ignite some major flames and force each sibling to come to terms with what it means to be family.

Dare I say it… but I think I might have loved Malibu even more than Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?! And both of those novels were outstanding to say the least. Unlike her last two novels, this story is a family drama at its core, focusing on the lives each of the Riva siblings, whose father is the world-famous — yet largely absent — musician Mick Riva. But similarly to TJR’s past stories, she created a book that perfectly balances stunning character development with a fast-paced, highly readable plot that was ambitious, glamorous, and steamy, yet also so warm and tender in how it portrays its main characters, primarily each of the four siblings along with flashbacks to their mother June. I also enjoyed the large cast of characters — lots of times in books, extra characters can feel unnecessary or be too complicated to keep track of, but like always, TJR’s always writes characters with a purpose that perfectly ties them into her story in a memorable, meaningful way.

I especially loved the Riva siblings. While none of them were even close to perfect, so full of flaws and mistakes and secrets that you knew were bound to hurt those they loved the most, each one was so lovable and relatable despite major star-power. I especially adored the sisters, Nina and Kit, who I felt were the glue that held both this story’s plot and the Riva family together.

For lovers of TJR’s past works or those who just love a sensational, steamy family drama, I highly recommend Malibu Rising — it’ll definitely be the perfect beach read of summer 2021!

There’s power in a name: A review of The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

A copy of The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans being held up against a chalkboard wall.

You know that feeling when a book comes into your life at just the right time? That’s how I felt about this incredible collection of short stories and a novella. Overall, the collection was full of amazing stories that I think are all worthy to be checked out. But for the sake of this review, I’m going to focus on the novella, “The Office of Historical Corrections,” because in my opinion, if you have only time to read one story from this collection, it should be that one.

Quick synopsis: “[I]n the eye-opening title novella, a black scholar from Washington, DC, is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life, and her oldest friendship at risk.”

I read finished this story the day that the Capitol building was stormed by Trump supporters on January 6th. I’m only 25 years old, and I can honestly say this is the first time in my short life I felt truly scared. Scared for our sacred democracy, scared of white supremacy, scared of the consequences of selfish political leaders, and so much more.

The novella’s narrator is Cassie, a worker for the fictional Institute of Public History, more facetiously referred to as “the Office of Historical Corrections.” The job of its employees is to “address a different sort of public health crisis,” says Cassie. “We were the solution for decades of bad information and bad faith use of it. Our work was to protect the historical record, not to pick fights (guideline 1) or correct people’s reading of current news (guideline 2)” (pg. 165).

Warning: the following contains some spoilers. Keep reading at your own risk!

As a reader, I was first struck by how interesting this concept could be if followed perfectly — potentially a solution to people’s distrust of facts by providing an office that is designed to let the public know the truth. But like most things political and governmental, political correctness ends up taking the front seat, which often forces Cassie, who is Black, to choose to either ignore or accept corrections regarding race that don’t really serve to help anyone who it actually matters to, much to the malaise of those close to her, such as her boyfriend, who is also Black.

The plot really picks up when Cassie’s former coworker Genie creates a PR nightmare that requires Cassie — the Office’s token Black employee — to troubleshoot. Genie, also called Genevieve, is following a historical mystery of sorts involving a black man who supposedly was killed in the 1930’s near Milwaukee, but new information suggests he may not have actually been murdered. Genie is there to solve it, and Cassie is there to fix whatever Genie does that reflects poorly on the Office.

Without going into too many details that would severely ruin this story, what I will say is that the ending is truly devastating and unforgettable. But as a reader, I was left with this important message: there is power in naming something and calling a thing what it is. That is the grand lesson that Cassie must learn — whether she actually does so is another question. But the story’s ending in particular reveals not only the incredible freedom and power in revealing the truth and calling something by its proper name, but also the devastating effect it can have when some people choose to ignore it.

So as I read this book and simultaneously watched people storm the Capitol, I was reminded of the importance of putting a name to something and not sugarcoating it. I looked on Facebook and saw “friends” referring to those people as protesters, participating in their constitutional right to peacefully protest what they considered an unfair election. Some people suggested it was fully within the rights of Trump as President to encourage his supporters to simply protest.

But if we are to agree with the premise of “The Office of Historical Corrections,” then it is vital that we call a thing by its name. I am immensely thankful for the hosts of people who voiced what the events of January 6th actually were: insurrection caused by sedition, anarchy, domestic terrorism, white supremacy, an attack on democracy and free elections, and so much more.

I obviously wrote this review in retrospect of the Capitol storming, but it truly took me this much time to both process the events of that day and Evans’ stunning novella. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you found something thought-provoking in this review and are encouraged to read her novella (or hopefully the entire collection) if you haven’t already. I can see this whole short story collection being taught one day in a literature or critical race theory course. It’s just that good. This story is definitely the reason I will always love stories — for the way fiction can express truth and reveal knowledge in a way that transcends the pages and intertwines with reality.

Resiliency and womanhood: A review of The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

A Book of the Month copy of The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare sitting on my lap.

When Book of the Month released their top five reader-voted Book of the Year finalists, I was in a bit of a sweat. I’m one of those subscribers that has two boxes, so I realized there was a good shot that I would have read them all! But luckily, there was one novel that I hadn’t picked up: The Girl With the Louding Voice. It’s one of those stories I have heard nothing but praise for, and it was certainly one of those “wish-I-had-chosen-that” books. I was fortunate to be able to use my free add-on to get this novel and read it along with one of my closest friends, Maggie!

Quick synopsis: This story follows Adunni, a bright 14-year-old Nigerian girl who dreams of completing her education. Despite the many obstacles she faces, she never loses sight of her dream to go to school, escape her poverty, and help other girls do the same, ultimately seeking the strength to find her own “louding” voice along the way.

This story was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. Told in broken English from Adunni’s perspective, it was a slower read as I digested each word of Adunni’s story. More than anything, I was so touched by her spirit and resiliency. And reading her story in first-person made it feel so much more personal and real. It felt like she was sitting next to me, just having a conversation about her life and experiences.

I think one of the most original things that this book included were fun facts about Nigeria that started each chapter toward the second half of the novel. As Adunni begins to work her way through a book full of facts on Nigeria, the author weaves them into each chapter, in ways that are either subtly or obviously related to that particular chapter.

I think we as readers need to really put emphasis on Own Voices storytelling — that is, diverse stories written by authors who have lived or are living the experiences of the characters they are writing about. Reading these facts was a way to show that Nigeria is a thriving, beautiful, powerhouse country, not the stereotype that many Western readers (myself included!) may view or have viewed Africa as. While Adunni’s story certainly illustrated some of the backward ways that Nigeria works when it comes to girls’ and women’s roles and values in society, these facts along with many multi-faceted female characters truly painted a view of Nigeria that was new to me and helped me recognize and shake the backward stereotypes I had in my head. This is why Own Voices stories are so vital!

Warning: the following contains some spoilers. Keep reading at your own risk!

I think my favorite part of this story were all of the strong, multifaceted female characters. Adunni, as the narrator and protagonist, was an obvious favorite, as the whole story hinges on her story. From the start, you want to root for her. She is sharp-tongued, opinionated, and brave, even in a man’s world that keeps beating her down (metaphorically and literally), from her father to her husband to her employer’s husband.

First, I loved Khadija, the second wife of Morufu, who really becomes a mother/older sister figure to Adunni. Even in that horrific time for Adunni, away from home and the third wife to a man she doesn’t love, Khadija shows Adunni such tender love and grace.

I also adored Tia, who becomes her mentor and teacher. She was just so easy to like — she definitely contrasted with the other neighborhood women who still followed the much stricter cultural values for women, such as marriage and children. I think her introduction just really aided Adunni in showing her what a life as a modern Nigerian woman can look like, but I was also deeply touched by Adunni’s role in helping Tia grow as a person and learn more about herself, even as a grown woman.

Big Madam was easily the most complex of all of the female characters — and 99% of the time, she was deeply unlikable. I hated the way she treated Adunni, from the physical and emotional abuse to the downright hatred and bullying. But Big Madam also was the perfect mirror of how the values placed on women in Nigeria can create this toxic attitude. While she does some downright horrific things, she also is subject to a culture that forces her to believe that marriage and children are more important than anything else, forcing her to settle for a husband that cheats on her, hurts and sexually abuses young women, and abuses her. Even while I strongly disliked her, there were moments between Adunni and her that really showed Big Madam’s human, vulnerable side.

But most importantly, perhaps, I most adored Adunni’s mother. While she was never present in the novel, having passed before Adunni’s story begins, she was such a fully present character. It is clear that she deeply shapes Adunni’s hopes, dreams, and veracity for life, and Adunni never forgets her mother’s dream that Adunni continue her education and forge a better life for herself.

Ambition, identity, and otherness: A review of Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

A cup of black coffee next to a Book of the Month copy of Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour on top of a wooden table.

So disclaimer: this was my first FIVE STAR read of 2020. Now, I used to throw 5 stars around like they were candy. But the more I read, the more I realized I needed to reserve that rating for the far and few — the ones that touched my heart, made me think differently about a topic, or stuck with me for whatever reason. Black Buck is certainly one of those stories.

The first thing that caught my eye (beyond the colorful, striking cover) was Mateo Askaripour’s very personal dedication — “To all of those who have ever been made to feel less than / I see you.” I love to see who authors dedicate their stories, something so personal to them, to, and I found it very powerful that Askaripour aimed it at basically everyone. After all, who hasn’t been made to feel less than before? And after reading this witty, pointed, and sharp critique of race, ambition, and otherness in America’s workforce, I couldn’t help but think back to his dedication.

Quick synopsis: Darren, a young and unambitious Black man living in NYC, is suddenly swooped up from his job at Starbucks into a sales role at a hot, new startup after a chance encounter with the company’s enigmatic leader. There, he finds himself the token POC in an office that is very, very white. As the story progresses and Darren learns to master the art of sales, he remakes himself into the titular Buck and makes it his mission to help other BIPOC infiltrate the workforce by teaching them to be masterful salespeople.

While Askaripour may not have intended for his debut to be read as a satire, I found it to be one of the freshest, sharpest satires I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. The story was laugh-out-loud funny as it tackled startup culture, racism in the workforce, the intensity of sales, and more. But it was also incredibly cringe-inducing, as I watched Darren face a variety of of microaggressions in the workplace, from being told he looks like basically every Black celebrity, and even more outright and stomach-churning acts of racism.

At times, I remember thinking, there’s no way stuff like this could actually happen — but then again, doesn’t it? As an BIPOC person, I could relate to the feelings of inadequacy or otherness that Darren felt, along with this intense desire to live up to and even succeed the expectations laid out in front of him, both his own and of those around him. While the story certainly felt over the top, the feelings those scenes inspired were real, whether that was relatability, discomfort, even fear or sadness. And that’s exactly what makes a good satire — using these extreme, almost cartoonish scenarios to evoke feelings in the readers that are real and tangible.

Overall, this story was a profound examination of how race plays a role in business and beyond, but I think what it did best was address otherness and create a sense of community and belonging, especially for BIPOC and perhaps other marginalized groups. While I’m no skilled salesman in a NYC high rise, I certainly understand many of Darren’s feelings of needing to fit in and prove himself worthy. And while everyone has arguably experienced feeling like a “less than,” I think any BIPOC can attest that that feeling is sometimes deeply ingrained in us as a result of the system. And while I think many BIPOC readers especially be able to relate to, laugh with, and ache alongside, I definitely think this is a story that anyone can read and gain a whole new perspective.

What makes up an identity? A review of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

A Book of the Month copy of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. The book sits on concrete and is surrounded by fall leaves.

For my first-ever review on this blog, I wanted to highlight one of my top reads of 2020 — The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. This one was all over bookstagram, so when it became available as Book of the Month’s October pick, I absolutely knew I had to grab it! Plus as a former English major, I love finding stories that take classic literary tropes — in the case of Addie LaRue, a Faustian bargain — and twist and mold them into something razor sharp and fresh. Schwab 100% accomplished that with her 442-page masterpiece, and what screams fall-ish, spookier vibes than a deal with the devil?! Plus, if it’s any testament to my love for this fantasy-driven, historical fiction-laced, and romance-tinged story, my rescue pup is named is even named Addie after the book!

Quick synopsis: After Addie ignores the advice of a village elder “to never pray to the gods that answer after dark,” she strikes a deal with a dark, alluring, yet dangerous stranger that forces her to walk invisible across time, history, and geography. Determined to make peace with what it means to be forever alone and forever forgotten, Addie finds adventure in the world around her for the next 300 years. All that changes, however, when she meets a stranger in a bookstore later who finally remembers her face.

The first thing that grabbed my attention as a reader, even in the slow burn of a start, was Schwab’s mastery of language. Her prose is gorgeous, perfectly balancing detailed character development and a winding, provocative plot, both of which sucked me in. I’m usually a fast reader, but this one had me slowing down in order to savor each sentence down to the letter. It had me deeply thinking about my own choices, regrets, would-be’s, and future opportunities.

But where this story really captured my heart was Addie herself. She is exactly the type of character whom, as a reader, I adore deeply. She is courageous, intelligent, independent, resourceful, and clever, yet so achingly human in all of her imperfections. Despite the limitations of her curse — never being remembered by anyone — she manages to live her immortality to the fullest, attempting to find adventure in each new day while still experiencing the hardships that all humans face: that is, heartbreak, pain (physical, psychological, and emotional), loss, fear, etc. Addie is the sort of character I wish I could be friends with in real life, which for me, is the true mark of an amazing, well-developed character. Her story is an incredible testament to the importance of living life to the fullest, loving deeply, and staying true to yourself. 

But the most important facet of this story, for me at least, was its exploration of what makes up one’s identify. Is is a face, a name, an idea, or something else entirely? Addie’s experience of living forever, yet never being remembered, takes the idea of identity — or lack thereof — to a new level. And while I can almost assuredly say that none of us will experience anything exactly like it, don’t many of us at least understand her struggle to find herself?

As a 25-year-old woman, identity is one of those themes that is close to my heart. It feels like every action I take, every choice I pursue is in constant pursuit of finding my own identity. I related so much to Addie’s search for herself, even when it seemed nearly impossible. Her journey reminded me of the importance of living life fully, loving deeply, and staying true to yourself — all ingredients that lead to recognizing and understanding one’s identity.