When I decided to write this book review, I didn’t expect to have as much difficulty as I ended up having. It is hard to put into words the different aspects of this novel, though I’m looking upon that as a good thing: it means it has made me think, and if you ask me I think that’s pretty important.
Let’s delve right in.
Nove Ren Suma
Pages per day: 49
Imaginary Girls is a debut novel by New Yorker Nova Ren Suma, aimed at a young adult audience. Perhaps the first thing we notice (apart from the stunning cover, but we’re not judging it by that, are we?) is Suma’s whimsical use of language and her knack for effortless metaphors. We are drawn into another world through beautiful words, barely recognising the transition. And the story begins.
Imaginary Girls is a story of sisterhood and delicate balance between life and death. It is a story, told through the point of view of Chloe, a young girl, living under the spotlight of her luminescent and untamable sister, Ruby. This changes, however, when the body of a classmate is found and Chloe is sent away, leaving her to find her own identity in a town that only recognises her through her sister’s. It’s when Chloe returns that everything we thought we knew is turned upside down and we find that, in fact, we know nothing at all.
It is this outstanding use of an unreliable narrator which makes this novel so suspenseful and engaging. When everything we are told is questioned, we are left wondering what is true and what is false. For some people, this is what lead them to not enjoy the book very much, along with the character of Ruby. However, I found the character of Ruby intriguing and interesting. Because we know so little about her, only finding out bits and pieces throughout the story, only knowing what her sister tells us, it is as though we are only just meeting her. It’s like being introduced to someone for the first time: all we know is their name and what they look like, but slowly, as we talk to them more and spend more time with them, their mystery unravels. Foundations are built. This is how I found Ruby.
We are left to piece together many aspects of this story ourselves as readers, and this is very effective and exciting. A lot of this story is left to our interpretation, which allows us to dream up the most deliciously wonderful conclusions in our heads. For the reader, this is even more engaging as we are made to feel as though we are a part of the book, a part of what happens. As well as this, we also come up with what is most appealing to us. No two people will read this novel in the same way, and that is the beauty of it.
Overall, Imaginary Girls is an outstanding and beautifully crafted first novel for Suma. I cannot wait to discover more of her books and devour more of her poetic use of the English language. A tremendous story, recommended to any young (or old!) adult. You can pick it up from Book Depository here, with free shipping worldwide.
“Ruby said I’d never drown – not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even falling drunk into someone’s bottomless backyard pool. She said she’d seen me hold my breath underwater for minutes at a time, but to hear her tell it you’d think she meant days. Long enough to live down there if needed, to skim the seafloor collecting shells and shiny soda caps, looking up every so often for the rescue lights, even if they took forever to come.
“It sounded impossible, something no one would believe if anyone other than Ruby were the one to tell it. But Ruby was right. The body found that night wouldn’t be, couldn’t be mine.”
– Imaginary Girls, Nova Ren Suma, pg. 1
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Next week’s book is first, we make the beast beautiful by Sarah Wilson – make sure to check in! If you’ve got any other suggestions for book for my challenge, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.
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