Caroline Bock asked me if I would consider blurbing her latest manuscript, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I had more than merely enjoyed her debut novel LIE; reading her words I felt a kindred writing spirit. She uses multiple characters in search of a broader truth as they try to make sense out of horrific events.
That's what reading and writing are for: making sense of the world and helping us to understand.
This is what Before My Eyes does.
Bock boldly opens with a character who is obviously dangerously mentally ill, and he has a gun.
Violence is both a noun and a physical construct. I embody the noun - and the construct - and if I am violence and I am good, (which must be), then violence must be good or in the purpose of the greater good since my only purpose is to do good. I am wrapped in goodness, an invincible light. My cape. My shield. No one can hurt me. This is my day.
Bock's story begins with a mass shooting on a Monday morning, and then she takes us back to Friday, weaving the narrative between three points of view: Max, a state senator's son who is having a hard time doing the right thing, Claire, a poet who has too many responsibilities, and Barkley, who hears voices, and unravels before our eyes. Max and Claire are more worried about themselves, and although we know what is going to happen, we quickly turn the pages.
Bock isn't preaching to us about the way things should be, she's giving us a glimpse into the way things are, without sentimentality and without an agenda. Her characters are multi-dimensional, filled with both darkness and light, as we, her readers all are. She reminds us of the struggle to be human, and has us searching for our own redemption, our own path to forgiving the world for its sins.
This book should be required reading in high schools as it has multiple topics to explore: mental illness, bullying, to family relationships, friendships, loyalty and of course, violence.
Before My Eyes will be published by St. Martin's Press in the winter of 2014. I'll let you know when it's available!
Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.
"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.